Terry Sunderland

I am currently a Professor in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia focusing on the biological and human dimensions of the sustainable management and utilization of tropical forests. I was previously a Senior/Principal Scientist at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Indonesia, where I coordinated CIFOR’s work on forests and food security, biodiversity conservation and integrated landscape management.  Prior to joining CIFOR in early 2006, I was based in West Africa for over fifteen years and worked on numerous conservation and livelihood-focused projects.

Having both a field practitioner and academic background gives me a wide perspective on conservation, livelihoods and related issues. I have a Masters degree in Forestry from the University of Oxford and a PhD from the University of London. I have published more than 240 research papers, book chapters and books. I am an active blogger and engage regularly with the media on disseminating research for policy influence and outreach.

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Joli Rumi Borah

I am originally from Assam, Northeast India and currently a Postdoctoral fellow at Sunderland lab. My work here focuses on the biodiversity aspects of the integrated landscape approach that aims to reduce emissions and poverty and contribute to the sustainable use of biodiversity.

My broad research interests are sustainable management of agricultural landscapes for biodiversity conservation and human well-being, ecosystem services management and science-policy interface. My doctoral work at the University of Sheffield, UK assessed the potential of conservation interventions in effectively managing shifting cultivation for reducing biodiversity loss and carbon emission in Nagaland, Northeast India. Post-PhD, I worked as a Conservation Officer at Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) that involved providing conservation advice to farmers for sustainable management of the Irish countryside in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

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PhD students

Alida O’Connor

I am a PhD student working under the supervision of Dr. Terry Sunderland. My research will contribute to the COLANDS project, a collaborative project between UBC, the University of Amsterdam, and the Center for International Forestry Research that seeks to operationalize the landscape approach in Ghana, Zambia, and Indonesia. Broadly, my past work has focused on the integration of livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. I graduated with a double major in International Development Studies and Environment, Sustainability and Society from Dalhousie University. After completing my undergraduate thesis on the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area and a placement at a conservation project in Zimbabwe, my interest in what constitutes effective conservation deepened. For my master’s research at UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability I partnered with the World Wildlife Fund Namibia to identify wellbeing indicators in the communal conservancies in the Zambezi region. Following my master’s degree, I worked as a research fellow with Dr. Sunderland on a number of papers and projects (including COLANDS) with an overarching focus on livelihoods and natural resource management. I look forward to diving deeper into the landscape approach as a PhD student!

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Debbie Pierce

I am a first year PhD student in the Sunderland lab. My research is in tropical forestry, land tenure, non-timber forest products and gender. I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated with a double major in economics and environmental policy from the University of Michigan. After graduation I spent a year working in environmental philanthropy and non-profit organizations in New York City. I then received a masters in environmental science and management from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I worked with others to develop a business model for the sale of biochar on California farms and vineyards. While at the University of California, Santa Barbara I worked with Dr. Gary Libecap on a land demarcation and land value project in California and Ohio. I have spent the past three years working at the World Bank in Washington, DC on indigenous peoples, gender and forestry issues. During this time I mostly worked in Latin America and Africa, specifically working with forest-dependent communities in Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Burkina Faso. I am looking forward to working with others at UBC and getting back into the forest!

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Winy Vasquez

My name is Winy Vasquez and I completed my undergraduate studies in the Faculty of Forestry in the Natural Resources Conservation program in 2017. I joined Dr. Sunderland’s lab as a Master’s student in 2019. During my undergraduate degree in Forestry I joined the co-op program which paved the way for my interest in academia as I was able to work at research institutes both abroad, in Chile and India and at home, in the Faculty of Forestry. For my thesis research I will be working in collaboration with an Indigenous community in Peru that lives inside of, or in proximity to, a protected area in order to assess how their food security may be impacted and to gain a better understanding of what their local food system entails. I will be undertaking fieldwork in Peru in 2020, where I will be employing a variety of research methods such as household questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and photovoice exercises with youth. By undertaking this research, I hope to be able to highlight the many contributions forests make to healthy and sustainable diets as well as contribute to better-informed food related policies that strengthen Indigenous food systems.

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Samuel Adeyanju

I am a PhD student (Four Year Doctoral Fellow) under the supervision of Dr. Terry Sunderland. My research broadly focuses on African environmental politics with special interests in livelihoods and community forestry. I was a Mastercard Foundation Scholar (2017 – 2020) at the University of British Columbia, Canada where I obtained an MSc in Forestry. My MSc research focused on the co-existence of formal and informal institutional arrangements in managing cultural landscapes in Southwest Nigeria. I have researched various forest management and environmental related issues in Ghana, Zambia, and Tanzania. In 2020, I interned at the Food and Agriculture Organization Headquarters in Rome and traveled for conferences in Germany, Rwanda, Ghana, United Kingdom, and the United States. I graduated with a First Class in Forestry and Wood Technology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria in 2016.

Personal Website:

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Masters students

Bavneet Kaur

My name is Banveet Kaur and I am an international Master’s student in forestry department at UBC. I come from Punjab, India and graduated from Mata Gujri College in the field of agriculture. Being a daughter of a farmer, it became a passion for me to gain a profound knowledge in agriculture. While pursuing my degree, I decided to major in forestry from a highly dignified and efficient institute. With lots of effort and hard work, I was admitted to the university of my dreams. Currently, I am doing an Msc. Forestry (Thesis Based) under the supervision of Dr. Terry Sunderland. I am doing research on environment related concept  “ Payment for Ecological Services”. In this subject matter, basically I would study the design and implementation of various PES schemes and constraints facing both beneficiaries and providers that ends up collapsed. I hope my study in this area would prove to be a fruitful mechanism of preserving the environment. Feel free to drop any queries or suggestions regarding my thesis work at

Abimbola Ilemobayo

My name is Abiodun Abimbola Ilemobayo. I was born and raised in Nigeria and I’m one of the recipients of the 2019 Mastercard Foundation Scholarship. I earned a Bachelor of Agriculture degree in Forestry and Wood Technology at the Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria. Professionally, I have worked as a research intern at both the Center for Space Research and Application and the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria. As of September of 2019, I am pursing a new journey in my master’s program under the supervision of Dr. Terry Sunderland at the department of Forest and Conservation Sciences. I am ambitious, highly organized, results-oriented and committed to making the world more sustainable. I am particularly interested in forest conservation, climate change awareness, adaptation strategies and mitigation among the rural communities because the rural farmers are the most vulnerable in the developing countries. In the next few years, I see myself as a world-renowned female researcher that would be involved in reshaping the forestry sub-sector and contribute my quota to sustainable forest resource management across Africa and other parts of the world where I could make a positive impact.

Juliana Kaufmanis

I graduated with a degree from UBC Forestry’s Conservation program in the spring of 2017, where I also subsequently completed the immersive Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture based at the UBC Farm. I am interested in ecological restoration, specifically the local-level impacts of large-scale restoration projects. Large, landscape-scale restoration interests me because it exists at the intersection of global goals and local livelihoods. I think this intersection makes it a fascinating area to explore issues such as: what are the goals of ecological restoration? and who decides what they are?   I formerly worked in the UBC’s Stream and Riparian Research Laboratory (Dr. John Richardson) as a research assistant working on the early stages of site selection, surveying, and literature review for the Source Stream Protection (SOSTPRO) project. The overall project aim is to investigate the impacts of different forest management strategies on metrics of aquatic ecosystem resilience and to identify trade-offs between those strategies, aquatic ecosystem services, and industrial and social opportunities


Diling Liang

My research is focused on the protection of UBC’s Farm. The project is seeking to keep a natural ecosystem and achieve sustainable development in the UBC farm.

I graduated with a major in Biotechnology from Beijing Forestry University. I also have a Bachelor’s degree in Forest Science from UBC. Beyond the focus of the coursework, I also did some lab volunteer work to deepen my knowledge during that time. In the summer of 2017, I had a chance to investigate species composition and distribution in Three North Shelterbelt which is an excellent forestry program in China. Besides that, I was a volunteer in Dr. Guangyu Wang’s lab at UBC. My main work was focused on Computer modelling for species distribution under the impacts of climate change. I helped in Anil Kumar Shrestha’s research “Protection of Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosi in Nepal,” and the paper is ready to be published.

Yutong Feng

My name is Yutong Feng and I am an undergraduate in UBC. I am a transfer student from Beijing Forestry University and this is the second year in UBC. In Beijing, I majored in biotechnology, and now I major in forest sciences in UBC under the supervision of Dr. Terry Sunderland. This program is a good choice to guide the undergraduate students to the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate and help with cultivating good initial research ability. After a year of study at UBC, I became more aware of the importance of sustainability. And my research is focusing on the sustainable management strategy. I had undertaken interviews and field investigations in Yunnan Province in China which is the origins of Terminalia chebula this summer. And my aim is to explore suitable sustainable management strategy for Terminalia chebula, one National Secondary Protection Chinese medicine. During this process, I found that the forestry in each place was intensely different but all were threatened by resource reduction. For example, the forestry environment in Vancouver is extremely different from China. Therefore, I desired to learn more about how to use sustainable development to save these resources. And I want to continue my master program with focusing on sustainability and international forestry!


Sheriff Ola

Sheriff Ola completed his MSc in Forestry program under Terry Sunderland His research topic was ‘Opportunities for community-based rattan harvesting regime in Ghana’. In Ghana and several countries in Africa, rattan is recognized as a vital livelihood support instrument as its harvesting and utilization provides income opportunities for many forest and forestry dependent communities. However, increased commercialization of the cane product derived from rattan has led to concerns of over exploitation and unsustainable supply. This could have disturbing implications for rural livelihoods since majority of rattan-related subsistence income activities are practiced by members of rural areas. This Masters research aimed to assess existing opportunities for a community-based sustainable management of rattan extraction in Ghana. It uncovered governance and enforcement opportunities and mechanisms at the rural community level capable of effectively and sustainably managing rattan extraction activities. The findings from the investigation provides a basis for proposing a regimen for community-based sustainable management of rattan harvesting in Ghana.