Ole Mertz

Ole Mertz



1990: M.Sc. agronomy, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark

1997: PhD in geography, Department of Geography, University of Copenhagen (DG)

2000: Diploma in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Adjunktpædagogikum), Faulty of Science, University of Copenhagen



Mother tongue: Danish

Fluent: English

Understanding and good speaking: French

Understanding and basic speaking: German

Some knowledge of Malay/Indonesian


Employment record

2022-                Head of Studies, BSc and MSc Geography and Geoinformatics

2016-2022        Head of Section of Geography, DGN

2014-present    Professor of Human Geography, DGN

2006-2014       Associate Professor, DGN (formerly Department of Geography and Department of Geography and Geology, DG)

2004-2006       Network Coordinator (ReNED) and part time Associate Professor, DG

2001-2003       Associate Professor, DG (project funded, DUCED SLUSE)

2003                Part-time Coordinator of Danida working groups on environmental assistance

1997-2008       Part-time consultant on development issues in several African and Asian countries, Nordic Consulting Group

1997-2001       Assistant Professor, DG (project funded, SEREIN and DUCED SLUSE)

1994-1997       PhD-scholarship at DG

1992-1994        Junior National Expert, European Commission Delegation, Burkina Faso


Scientific projects and funding

2021-2026        RurbanClimate - Climate Resilience across the Rural-Urban Continuum. Project member, responsible for work package on the relationship between livelihoods and ecosystem services. DKK 12 mill., 4 mill. for IGN.

2021-2026        Fair for whom? Power, politics and precarity in transformations of tropical forest-agriculture frontiers. Project member. Funding: Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), Kyoto, Japan. USD 2,500.000 (fully administered in Japan).

2021-2022        Policy recommendations of ways of integrating shifting cultivation into sustainable development of forested landscapes. Co-PI, funded by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), DKK 377,300.

2018-2022        Leader at DGN and supervisor, ‘Inspire4Nature: International training at the Science-Policy Interface for Researchers in Europe, for Nature’. EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie International Training Network, led by CNRS, France. DGN share: DKK 1,982,898

2018-2022        Director of Training and supervisor, ‘Operationalising Telecouplings for Solving Sustainability Challenges for Land Use (COUPLED)’. EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie International Training Network, led by Humboldt University, Germany. DGN share: DKK 4,134,481

2016-2017        Leader at DGN ‘Land-use intensification in forest-agriculture frontier landscapes: effects on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation (ESPA-Frontiers)’ led by University of East Anglia, UK, and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council under the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) Programme, UK. DGN share GBP 60,000

2013-2016        Leader at DGN ‘Ecosystem Services, Wellbeing and Justice: Developing Tools for Research and Development Practice’ led by University of East Anglia, UK, and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council under the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) Programme, UK. DGN share GBP 102,000

2013-2016        Leader at DGN ‘Knowledge based climate adaptation in West Africa’, led by AGRHYMET, Niger, and funded by Danida. DGN share DKK 2,740,000

2012-2016        Leader at DGN of sub-project on ‘environmental enclosures – REDD+’ under the ‘Property and Citizenship in Developing Countries (ProCit)’ project led by Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen and funded by the Danish Research Council for Social Sciences. DGN share DKK 2,220,000

2011-2014        Coordinator and Principal Scientist of EU FP7 funded project entitled Impacts of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Forest Carbon Stocks (I-REDD+). Total budget EUR 3,149,968. DGN-share DKK 2,017,907

2009-2012        Leader of the project Transition of Shifting Cultivation Systems at the Agriculture/Forest Frontiers – Sustainability or Demise, funded by the Danish Research Council for Social Sciences, DKK 1,810,000

2006-2009        Senior researcher and coordinator of Work Package in the EU FP6-funded African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) project on adaptation to climate change/variability in rural communities of the Sahel, West Africa, EUR 321,800

2006-2007        Project Coordinator of the Galathea3 endorsed project on Sustainable resource use or imminent collapse? Climate, livelihoods and production in the Southwest Pacific, funded by several private organizations, DKK 1,600,000

1998-2004        Danish University Consortium for Sustainable Land Use and Natural Resource Management (DUCED SLUSE). Leader of an interdisciplinary research project on shifting cultivation dynamics in Sarawak, Malaysia

1997-1998        Sahel-Sudan Environmental Research Initiative (SEREIN), with responsibility for a sub-project on farming systems in Burkina Faso

1994-1997        PhD project on shifting cultivation systems and plant domestication in Sarawak, Malaysia, funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Supervision, post docs

  1. Laura Vang Rasmussen: Land-use intensification in forest-agriculture frontier landscapes: effects on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation (ESPA-Frontiers); Knowledge based climate adaptation in West Africa; and Ecosystem Services, Wellbeing and Justice: Developing Tools for Research and Development Practice. Tenure-track assistant professor mentoring
  2. Maya Pasgaard: Impacts of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Forest Carbon Stocks
  3. Rikke Brandt Broegaard: Property and Citizenship in Developing Societies
  4. Andreas Egelund Christensen: Shifting cultivation and Global Land Project
  5. Nathalie van Vliet: Transition of Shifting Cultivation Systems at the Agriculture/Forest Frontiers – Sustainability or Demise and Global Land Project


Supervision, PhD students

  1. Mamadou Cissé. Modélisation de la dynamique relationnelle des ressources naturelles et des populations de petites villes au Burkina Faso face au changement climatique : Cas de Pô et Léo. Co-supervisor, student enrolled at 2ie, Burkina Faso (on-going).
  2. Janelle Sylvester. Addressing drivers of land degradation in agricultural landscapes in Colombia. Co-supervised with Thilde Bech Bruun (on-going)
  3. Louise Busck Lumholt. Land use impacts of the clean development mechanism in a telecoupled world. Co-supervised with Esteve Corbera, Autonomous University of Barcelona (graduated 2022).
  4. Erwan Sachet. Interlinkages between political layouts, agrarian policies and agroecology (graduated 2022)
  5. Scott Ford. Understanding the implications of temporal dynamics of protected area boundaries and designations for protected area-based biodiversity indicators. Co-supervised with Martin Rudbeck Jepsen (DGN) and Naomi Kingston, World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK (graduated 2022)
  6. Joel Persson. International forest conservation discourses and local decisions as telecoupled systems. Co-supervised with Jonas Østergaard Nielsen, Humboldt University, Berlin (graduated 2021)
  7. Augusto Castro. Beyond Carbon Payments: Colombia’s interest in reducing forest-carbon emissions (graduated 2016)
  8. Charles Kilawe. Transition of shifting cultivation in Tanzania: effects on forest cover, plant diversity, soil properties and crop yields. Co-supervised with Torben Birch-Thomsen, DGN (graduated 2016)
  9. Abdul Malik. Change detection and sustainable policies of mangrove forests: A case study. Co-supervised with Rasmus Fensholt, DGN (graduated 2016)
  10. Rico Kongsager. Analytical approaches to integrating agriculture and forestry in low carbon and resilient development strategies. Co-supervised with Anne Olhoff, Technical University of Denmark (graduated 2015)
  11. Thoumthone Vongvisouk. Local Communities and Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in Lao PDR (graduated 2014)
  12. Mette Bech Pilgaard. Agricultural restructuring and rural development in the Baltic Countries (graduated 2012)
  13. Malicki Zorom. Vulnérabilité des ruraux sahéliens à la variabilité climatique : Modélisation mathématique de la dynamique socioéconomique. Co-supervised with Bruno Barbier, 2ie and Université de Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (graduated 2012)
  14. Sara Trærup. Ensuring sustainable development within a changing climate (graduated 2010)
  15. Andreas Egelund Christensen. Making an Island Living: continuity and change on Ontong Java, Solomon Islands. Co-supervised with Katherine Gough, DG (graduated 2010)
  16. Martin Rudbeck Jepsen. Land, Man and Ecology. Co-supervised with Kjeld Rasmussen, DG (graduated 2005)


PhD and senior staff assessment committees

2022     Chairman Senior Reseacher evaluation committee, Danish Insititute of International Studies.

2022     PhD evaluation: Disentangeling the global soybean complex. Land use change in the era of reflexive modernity. Finn Mempel, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

2020     PhD evaluation: Food security in a changing climate. The role of cropland intensification and land acquisitions across Africa. Altaaf Mechiche-Alami, Lund University, Sweden.

2020     PhD evaluation: Telecoupled land use change in north-eastern Madagascar: Trade-offs in ecosystem services supply and implications for local human well-being. Jorge C. Llopis, University of Bern, Switzerland

2019     PhD evaluation: Landscapes and livelihoods changes in the north-western uplands of Cambodia: opportunities for building resilient farming systems. Rada Kong, Université de Montpellier/SupAgro Montpellier, France

2019     PhD evaluation: Advancing the Representation of Human Dimensions in Large-scale Land Use Models. Case studies for Laos. Chritine Ornetsmüller, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

2019     PhD evaluation: The social-ecological drivers of tree growth and diversity: Interdisciplinary learning with smallholder carbon agroforestry schemes in Mexico, Uganda and Mozambique. Geoff Wells, University of Edinburgh

2018     PhD evaluation: From the pixel to the globe: Large-scale land acquisitions as a driver of socio-environmental change. Emma Johansson, Lund University, Sweden.

2017     Chairman of PhD evaluation: From Land to Riches. The shifting role of land as upland livelihoods commercialize in Lao P.D.R. Catherine Hepp, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

2017     Chairman of assessment committee for Professorship in Climate Change at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

2017     PhD evaluation: Land politics in Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh: Dynamics of property, identity and authority. Fariba Alamgir, University of East Anglia, UK:

2016     PhD evaluation: Pathways to future cropland. Assessing uncertainties in socio-economic processes by applying a global land-use model. Kerstin Engström, Lund University, Sweden.

2015     PhD evaluation: Shifting cultivation in the upland secondary forests of the Philippines: Biodiversity and carbon stock assessment, and ecosystem services trade-offs in land-use decisions. Sharif Ahmed Mukul, University of Queensland, Australia.

2015     PhD evaluation: Resilience of Amazonian landscapes to agricultural intensification, Catarina Jakovac, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

2015     Member of assessment committee for Professorship at the Department of Agroecology, University of Aarhus, Denmark.

2014     Chairman of assessment committee for Professorship in Human Geography, DGN, Denmark

2014     Chairman of PhD evaluation: Political geographies of displacement by dispossession in Colombia: the case of afrodescendant communities in the Alto Cauca. Irene Vélez-Torres, DGN, Denmark

2013     Chairman of assessment committee for Associate Professorship in Globalization of Agriculture, Rural Transformation and Land Use Changes, DGN, Denmark

2013     Chairman of PhD evaluation: Exploring Land Use Change in the Sahel: Contemporary Perspectives on Coupled Human-Environment Systems. Laura Vang Rasmussen, DGN, Denmark

2012     PhD evaluation: A spatial assessment of changes in land use and carbon stocks in Laos: A contribution to policy and decision making for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Cornelia Hett, University of Bern, Switzerland

2012     PhD selection committee, PhD scholarship International Development Studies, Roskilde University, Denmark

2009     Senior researcher assessment committee, Risø, Technical University of Denmark.

2008     PhD evaluation: From Conflict to Unsustainable Consensus – The Actors in Fight for Biodiversity and Survival. Stig Jensen, Roskilde University, Denmark

2007     Chairman of PhD evaluation: Farming system changes among ethnic minorities in the Vietnamese uplands. A comparative village-study on the effects of land allocation in terms of food security, livelihoods and land use changes. Rikke Folving, DGG, Denmark

2006     PhD evaluation: Livelihood, land use and environment interactions in the highlands of East Africa. Eija Soini, University of Helsinki, Finland

2005     PhD evaluation: Multifaceted forest management for biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation: a case study of mid hills of Nepal. Arun Rijal, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark

2005     Chairman of PhD evaluation: Soil and Water Conservation in Agroforestry Systems: Soil erodibility and runoff under improved fallows and no-tillage in western Kenya. Anja Boye, DGG, Denmark

2004     PhD evaluation: Institutional and ecological aspects of non-timber forest product utilisation – commercial Himalayan medicinal plants in Nepal. Helle Overgaard Larsen, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark


Other teaching and supervision

  1. University of Copenhagen, organiser or co-organizer of PhD courses:
    1. COUPLED Advanced Training Course on Scientific Writing, Barcelona, 10-15th March 2019
    2. COUPLED Summer School, Humboldt University, Berlin, 9-19th July 2018
    3. Land use change and rural-urban transformation in the Global South, DGN July 2017
    4. Land use change in developing countries: Consequences for social and natural environments, DGN, October 2012
    5. Poverty, vulnerability and adaptation, DG, March 2009
  2. University of Copenhagen, courses at Bachelor and Master’s level: Land Use Transitions in the Global South; The Global Geography of Food; Environmental Impact Assessment; Human Geography Field Courses in Denmark and Developing Countries; Environment, Society and Development; Introduction to Human Geography; Practising Interdisciplinarity
  3. University of Copenhagen, supervision: more than 50 M.Sc. and B.Sc. theses.
  4. Universiti Malaysia Sarawak: Assisting with development of Master’s programme and guest lecturing in 2000-2003.
  5. External examiner in geography at Roskilde University and Aalborg University. 


Other academic activities and positions

2022-2023        Chair of the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant Panel SH7: Human Mobility, Environment and Space

2022-present     Vice-President of the Royal Danish Geographical Society (RDGS)

2022                 Member of evaluation panel of the Faculty of Sciences, University of Turku, Finland and of the University of Turku Graduate School (UTUGS)

2021-present     Head of Studies for Geography and Geoinformatics, DGN

2019-present     Specialty Chief Editor of the Section Land, Livelihoods and Food Security in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems (Frontiers)

2018-2021        Member of European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant Panel SH2: Social Sciences and Humanities – Institutions, Values, Environment and Space

2018-present     Member of the University of Copenhagen Global Development Network working group, representing the Faculty of Science

2017-2018        Chairman of evaluation panel for evaluation of geographical research in Norway, Research Council of Norway.

2016-2022        Head of Section for Geography, DGN

2016-2021        Member of the Editorial Board of Land (MDPI Press)

2016-2018        Member of evaluation panel for the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) calls on development research

2015                 Member of evaluation panel for the Faculty of Sciences, University of Turku, Finland - responsible for assessment of the Department of Geography and Geology.

2014-present     Editorial Board member of GEO (Royal Geographical Society, UK and Wiley)

2014-present     Member of the Editorial Board of Journal of Land Use Science (Taylor & Francis – Routledge)

2013-present     Editorial Board member of Environmental Management (Springer, New York)

2012-2016        Leader of the Research Group, Environment and Society in Developing Countries, DGN

2012                 Invited participant at Ernst Strungmann Forum on Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era, Frankfurt, Germany, September 2012

2011-present     Member of the Council of the Royal Danish Geographical Society

2011-2019        Chief Editor of Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography, Royal Danish Geographical Society (Taylor & Francis – Routledge)

2011-2017        Member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Land Project, appointed by IHDP/IGBP

2010-2013        Member of the Master’s Education Study Board of the Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen

2010-2013        Member of Danish National Advisory Committee on EU FP7, Environment

2009-present     Evaluator for the EU FP7 Environment Programme, National Science Foundation USA, Research Grants Council of Hong Kong and the Swiss National Science Foundation

2009-present     Editorial Board member of Human Ecology (Springer, New York)

2007-2011        Secretary General of the Royal Danish Geographical Society (RDGS)

2007-2009        Chairman of the Board of Danish Development Research Network (DDRN), funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DKK 9.9 million

2006-2012        Advisor for the International Foundation for Science

2006-present     Member of the WWF Denmark Presidium

2006-2019        Member of the WWF-Denmark Scientific Committee

2004-2006        Coordinator of the Research Network for Environment and Development (ReNED) promoting research use in international development

2003                 Coordinator for three working groups on environment and development under the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2000-2003        Representative of DUCED SLUSE in the Project Steering Committee of the Malaysian University Consortium (MUCED SLUSE)

1999-present     Peer reviewer for >50 international journals



2016:               Galathea Silver Medal, Royal Danish Geographical Society for research leadership at the Galathea3 Expedition.



Conference and workshop contributions: 53 oral presentations and 12 poster presentations given at a wide range of international conferences and workshops.


Lead organizer of the following conferences and meetings:

2014     International Conference on Carbon-Land-Property, Copenhagen 1-4 July 2014

2013     Side-event ‘Opportunities for REDD+ in degraded forests and complex landscapes’ at EU pavilion, UNFCCC COP19 in Warsaw, Poland, 15 November 2012

2012     Conference on science based measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems in Southeast Asia, Hanoi, Vietnam, 9 November 2012.

2011     Workshop on the Transition of shifting cultivation at Forest-Agriculture Frontiers, ECOSUR, Chetumal, Mexico, 26 June to 1 July 2011

2010     Session ‘Change in shifting cultivation at forest-agriculture frontiers’ at the Global Land Project (GLP) Open Science Meeting on Land Systems, Global Change and Sustainability, Phoenix, Arizona, 17-19 October 2010.

2009     GLP workshop on Forest-agriculture frontiers: impacts of land-use transitions on livelihoods and environment in the humid and sub-humid tropics', 2-3 November 2009, Vientiane, Laos

2008     The demise of swidden in Southeast Asia. A conference aimed at assessing the scope and consequences of the decline in swidden cultivation, 7 March, Hanoi, Vietnam

2007     International conference on Sustainable livelihoods and resource management in small islands, 22-23 August, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

2005     Ecosystem services and biodiversity, 17-18 August 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark

2004     Bridging research and development assistance: Strategies for adaptation to climate change in developing countries, 26-27 August 2004, Copenhagen, Denmark

2003     Local Land Use Strategies in a Globalizing World: Shaping Sustainable Natural and Social Environments, August 21-23, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Member of the organizing committee of the following conferences and meetings:

2016     Galathea3 – 10 years later. Conference organized by the Royal Danish Geographical Society, 14 December 2016.

2016     Global Land Programme - Open Science Meeting: Land system science: understanding realities and developing solutions. Beijing, 24-27 October 2016

2015     Property and Citizenship in Developing Societies (PROCIT), 3rd International Conference, Urban Property, Governance and Citizenship in the Global South. 23-26 June 2015, Copenhagen, Denmark

2014     Global Land Project - Open Science Meeting: Land Transformations: Between Global Challenges and Local Realities. Berlin, Germany, 19-21 March 2014

2012     Side-event ‘Is the window of opportunity for REDD+ closing?’ at EU pavilion, UNFCCC COP18 in Doha, Qatar, 29 November 2012.


Publications and citations (February 2023)

119 articles published in peer reviewed journals and 27 chapters in edited volumes and conference proceedings. Other publications include 3 theses, 38 popular articles, books and consultancy reports. Editor of 10 special issues and 4 conference proceedings.

Web of Science Core Collection: h-index=42; citations=5984
Google Scholar: h-index=58; citations=11433

See full publication list under 'research outputs'.

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