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Courses in Complexity


A Conversation with Lisa Curran
By E.O. Wilson
Tropical Resources Institute
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
April 13, 2006

A major challenge of sustainability science involves assessing the resilience of human-environmental systems that are experiencing multiple natural and anthropogenic perturbations that vary in rate, extent, and intensity. Curran's research work includes a case study from tropical forests in Indonesian Borneo that documents a major perturbation to human-environmental systemsólarge scale and intensive land clearing for agribusiness.

Economic and political drivers of oil-palm expansion are associated with global demand for timber, edible oils, and biofuel. The effects of these land-use changes on carbon emissions, biodiversity, and forest-dependent livelihoods are assessed. Issues of land tenure, environmental justice, accountability, and transparency of governance are critical factors for evaluating private-sector behavior and long-term regional sustainability.