Michaela Lo

PhD student,
Conservation Biology
 Michaela Lo


PhD project: Forecasting the impact of land use change on human well-being in central Indonesia

Rapid tropical deforestation and habitat degradation have led to widespread decline in biodiversity and natural resources. Indonesia faces large pressures from agricultural expansion, mining and logging, all of which are profoundly transforming forest landscapes across Sulawesi and the Moluccan archipelago. This region is emerging as the next developmental frontier in Indonesia, yet it remains unclear how these land-use decisions will influence the welfare and livelihoods of rural communities. 

Understanding the contribution of natural assets to local livelihoods is crucial to inform land-use policies that promote wellbeing outcomes. The integrated nature of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also highlights the importance of grasping the complex linkages between poverty alleviation (SDG1), food security (SDG2), health and wellbeing (SDG3) and biodiversity conservation (SDG15), and how they can be achieved in a holistic manner. 

This research project assesses the impact of different land-use scenarios on the supply and distribution of natural assets to rural households and provides policy-makers with key recommendations that aim to conserve biodiversity and achieve prosperity. A key component of the research is investigating the multiple pathways linking land-use change with local development: this involves developing multidimensional poverty measures to identify the role of biodiversity and nature in shaping human wellbeing. 

This work highlights the importance of taking an interdisciplinary approach to identify synergies and trade-offs of land-use management decisions and what influence this will have on sustainable development. The project seeks to elucidate important patterns in these complex socio-ecological systems and, in doing so, contribute to supporting sound land-use policies that reconcile biodiversity conservation, sustainable food systems and human wellbeing in this biodiverse and unique region.

Michaela Lo is a member of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology.


Professor Zoe Davies
Dr Matthew Struebig
Dr Sonny Mumbunan (Universitas Indonesia)


Global Challenges Doctoral Centre (GCDC) At University of Kent

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