James Langston


Early in life, my passion for nature and adventure motivated my education in the environmental sciences. Undergraduate studies in Tanzania generated my sense of duty to bridge the social and natural sciences to better manage the issues that affect people. After completing a multi-disciplinary bachelor’s degree I worked for the private sector in the environmental engineering field, honing managerial and leadership skills by managing teams and projects across the southwest of the United States. In 2013 I completed the Master of Development Practice (MDP) Program at James Cook University in Australia. The program aligned with my convictions that immersion and engagement with the actors most involved with the pressing issues of development is indispensable for an effective practitioner. I complete my PhD in 2019, on The Political Ecology of Spatial Development Initiatives (SDIs). I have spent the last 8 years working in tropical, mostly rural, landscapes undergoing social-ecological transitions, with the aim to help steer these transitions for optimal outcomes for people and their environment. I am currently based at the University of British Columbia in Canada where I coordinate the Master of International Forestry and continue to engage in research partnerships.



I am interested in the interconnected issues that shape livelihoods and the environment. Taking an action-research approach and as part of a team of landscape approach practitioners engaged in sustainability science, I explore the implications of industry driven SDIs on livelihoods and environment within a landscape. I explore how to leverage change in landscapes for long-term sustainable development outcomes. Broadly, I aim to situate myself at the interface between science and policy, influencing policy and management outcomes to better serve people and their environment. I am convinced that interdisciplinary science – knowledge co-generated with society, working withpeople rather than on or for them, is imperative for achieving inclusive, sustainable development. I primarily work where people and their institutions might be the most ill-equipped to achieve better sustainable development outcomes.

Selected Publications

Margules, C., Boedhihartono, A.K., Langston, J.D., Riggs, R.A., Sari, D.A, Sarkar, S., Sayer, J.A., Supriatna, J., and Winarni, N.L (2020) Transdisciplinary science for improved conservation outcomes. Environmental Conservation, 1-10.

Sayer, J., Boedhihartono, A. K., Langston, J. D., Margules, C., Riggs, R. A., & Sari, D. A. (2020). Governance challenges to landscape restoration in Indonesia. Land Use Policy

Langston, J. D., Riggs, R. A., Boedhihartono, A. K., Kastanya, A. and Sayer. J. (2020) An island in transition: governing conservation and development in Seram, Indonesia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

Riggs, R. A., Langston, J. D., Beauchamp, E., Travers, H., Ken, S., & Margules, C. (2020). Examining Trajectories of Change for Prosperous Forest Landscapes in Cambodia. Environmental management. doi:10.1007/s00267-020-01290-9

Brewer, J., Langston, J. D., Ferretti-Gallon, K., Innes, J. L., Xin, S., Zhai, H., & Wang, G. (2020). Alleviating forest degradation in the Lancang-Mekong Region requires closing management—measurement gaps. Journal of Forestry Research, 1-19. 

Riggs, R. A., Langston, J. D., Sayer, J., Sloan, S., & Laurance, W. F. (2020). Learning from Local Perceptions for Strategic Road Development in Cambodia’s Protected Forests. Tropical Conservation Science, 13, 1940082920903183. doi:10.1177/1940082920903183

Langston, J. D., Riggs, R. A., Sayer, J. A., Margules, C., & Boedhihartono, A. K. (2019). Science embedded in local forest landscape management improves benefit flows to society. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 2, 3.

Langston, J. D., McIntyre, R., Falconer, K., Sunderland, T., van Noordwijk, M., & Boedhihartono, A. K. (2019). Discourses mapped by Q-method show governance constraints motivate landscape approaches in Indonesia. PLoS one, 14(1)

Riggs, R. A., Langston, J. D., & Sayer, J. (2018). Incorporating governance into forest transition frameworks to understand and influence Cambodia’s forest landscapes. Forest policy and economics, 96, 19-27.

Bull, G. Q., Boedhihartono, A. K., Bueno, G., Cashore, B., Elliott, C., Langston, J. D., Riggs, R. A. & Sayer, J. (2018). Global forest discourses must connect with local forest realities. International Forestry Review, 20, 160-166(7).

Riggs, R. A., Langston, J. D., Margules, C., Boedhihartono, A. K., Lim, H. S., Sari, D. A., Sururi, Y. & Sayer, J. (2018). Governance Challenges in an Eastern Indonesian Forest Landscape. Sustainability,10,169.

Langston, J.,Riggs, R., Sururi, Y., Sunderland, T. & Munawir, M. (2017). Estate Crops More Attractive than Community Forests in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Land,6,12.

Sayer, J. A., Margules, C., Boedhihartono, A. K., Sunderland, T., Langston, J. D., Reed, J., Riggs, R., Buck, L. E., Campbell, B. M., Kusters, K., Elliott, C., Minang, P. A., Dale, A., Purnomo, H., Stevenson, J. R., Gunarso, P., and Purnomo, A. (2016). Measuring the effectiveness of landscape approaches to conservation and development. Sustainability Science.

Langston, J. D., Lubis, M. I., Sayer, J. A., Margules, C., Boedhihartono, A. K., & Dirks, P. H. (2015). Comparative development benefits from small and large scale mines in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. The Extractive Industries and Society, 2(3), 434-444.

Langston, J. (2017). To conserve forests, we need to think beyond current ideas of integration or segregation. The Conversation [Online].

Langston, J. D., & Turton, S. M. (2014). Industry – adaptation pathways and opportunities in the Wet Tropics Cluster. In C. Moran, S. M. Turton, & R. Hill (Eds.), Adaptation Pathways and Opportunities for the Wet Tropics NRM Cluster Region: volume 2: infrastructure, industry, indigenous peoples, social adaptation, emerging planning frameworks, evolving methodologies and climate adaptation planning in practice(Vol. 2): James Cook University.

Curriculum Vitae