Jeffrey Sayer


Research Classification

Research Interests

Communities and Livelihoods
Forest policy
Forest conservation in Indonesia
Land-use Change
Reconciling conservation and development in tropical forest landscapes
Tropical Landscapes and Livelihoods
Tropical forest conservation

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Operationalizing indicators of resilience in Subak system of Bali, Indonesia : learning from the Satoyama approach (2023)

The concept of the “Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes and Seascape (SEPLS)”, which are called “Satoyama” in Japan traditionally, suggests that interactions between ecosystems and human production activities can be favourable and synergistic. The importance of managing SEPLS became internationally recognized after the CBD COP10 meeting in 2010, but many recent changes such as industrialization and globalization have caused challenges to the sustainability of SEPLS. It is therefore important to learn from various real-world examples of managed SEPLS and to strengthen the resilience of SEPLS.This thesis focuses on one example of a SEPLS in Bali, Indonesia, which is famous for the rice terraces and cooperative irrigation system, called Subak. In 2023, I visited Wongaya Gede village to investigate the function of their socio-ecological production system in a Subak landscape. My study focused on three objectives of the system: (1) the relationship between traditional agricultural practices and natural ecosystems, (2) customary institutions' understanding and the state's understanding of land use, and (3) the impact of recent social and economic changes. My data was collected through participatory observation and key-informant interviews. The data were checked against the “Indicators of Resilience in SEPLS”, which is provided in a toolkit publication published by the Satoyama initiative. My findings reveal that the variety of landscape components and their spatial disposition as well as interconnection among them strengthens the resilience of the Wongaya Gede landscape. The regulations in protection forest are well-balanced with their agricultural practices. Also, people are applying their traditional practices and values to adopt external changes. Some key findings suggest generalizable lessons for the management of resilient SEPLS, namely the effectiveness of (1) complex mosaic structures of land-uses, (2) complements the benefits from protected areas, and (3) the coexistence of community rules and flexible management arrangements at the community level. The research proposes a wide range of usage of indicators, and provides a basis for further studies to explore the resilience of SEPLS in a broader and longer-term context, adding more cultural insight. The insights from this thesis contribute to research and engagement to strengthen the management of SEPLS to achieve resilience.

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Business ecosystems to provide incentives and opportunities for sustainable and resilient livelihoods in forest landscapes (2022)

Initiatives to strengthen small-scale forestry have proliferated in the recent decades. Existing literature has identified multiple factors that may hinder or improve the adaptive capacity of small-scale forestry, considering small-scale operations or business activities as an alternative to the large-scale industrial model that has long dominated the world’s forests. More recent research on business systems and strategies suggest a need to employ systems thinking, or business ecosystem approaches, to decipher complex relationships between different types and sizes of businesses rather than focusing on a specific business type or size. This thesis addresses this knowledge gap by combining insights from business literature and practices, and previous studies on sustainable and resilient livelihoods. Case studies of British Columbia, Canada, and Maluku Province, Indonesia were investigated to understand how business ecosystems unfolded in forest landscapes with different ecological and socio-economic backgrounds. The study in British Columbia focused on a local forest initiative created by the City of Quesnel to encourage innovation and improve the resilience of the local forest industry. The data was collected through interviews with government officials, non-governmental organizations, tertiary education institutions, and industry actors and applied actor network analysis methods to examine the role of different forest actors in the knowledge and business networks. The study in Indonesia investigated the way in which local communities in two villages on Seram Island, in Eastern Indonesia, used business activities to improve their livelihoods and adapt to their changing landscapes. Government regulations and previous participatory appraisal data obtained by non-governmental organizations were used to identify business network and landscape conditions that influence the operation of small-scale businesses and tenure holders. The findings reveal that business ecosystems in British Columbia and Indonesia are shaped by policy frameworks concerning land and tenure rights, which influence the dynamics of business and knowledge networks. This thesis highlights the importance of analysing how the underpinning policy framework affects the role and positions of each actor in their respective business ecosystem. The findings of this thesis suggest further research on the application of the business ecosystem framework to achieve sustainable and resilient livelihoods in forest landscapes.

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Challenges of participation in local forest initiatives (2022)

Local forest initiatives such as Community Forests and Social Forestry have been growing in recent decades to improve community participation and address landscape problems where factors such as poverty and forest degradation interact. Although participation has broadly increased, some communities still struggle to utilize these initiatives to improve forest governance. This thesis aims to address this phenomenon through a social relational approach to resource governance and policy analysis to understand how participation in decentralized forestry processes, as a function of policy context, influences local forest governance. Case studies of different communities in British Columbia, Canada and Indonesia are at different stages of developing and I have examined their local forest initiatives to provide insights on this phenomenon. The study in British Columbia (Chapter 2) focuses on local forest initiatives in Cariboo Regional District and Central Kootenay District to understand the challenges and opportunities of different communities in attempts to establish and manage their community forests. Data were collected through online interviews with governments, non-governmental organizations, and community members. The study in Indonesia (Chapter 3) investigates the implementation of Indonesia’s Social Forestry program and its influence on community participation in Social Forestry processes in Maluku Province. The research presented here reveals that communities will need to navigate through two crucial phases in developing their local forest initiatives to improve governance. In the first phase, social conflicts tend to be more prevalent as communities struggle to manage differences in aspirations and agendas to establish a common vision for their local forest initiative. This is the phase of heightened social conflicts. Local forest initiatives will then naturally transition to an operational stage marked by harvesting, marketing, and selling of their forest products. At this phase communities are likely to benefit from building forest expertise to improve effectiveness of management. Both phases influence the effectiveness of communities’ self-organization in utilizing social or community forests to improve benefits. Throughout each stage, the policy context shapes the way people participate in decentralized forestry processes. Insights from this study can help further research on utilizing community participation for improving local forest decision making.

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