Robby Butarbutar

Robby Butarbutar


Robby has over five years of experience in sustainable palm oil and biodiversity conservation with a particular interest in understanding the connection between anthropogenic activities and biodiversity. Prior to his PhD, He worked in the High Conservation Value Network (HCVN) Secretariat, focusing on the Management and Monitoring of HCVs. He also contributed to the Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Oil Palm Research (SEnSOR) project with the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) and the University of York, UK, examining the impact of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification on biodiversity in oil palm plantations across Indonesia and Malaysia.

Robby also gained experience working for a private palm oil company in Indonesia, where he assisted with conservation efforts and ensured compliance with sustainability standards. He holds an MSc. in Biodiversity and Conservation from the University of Leeds, UK, which he obtained through a Chevening scholarship. His master’s research focused on Species Distribution Modelling for Sumatran Elephants in Aceh, Indonesia, and this project was awarded the prize for the best project during his master’s program. Additionally, he holds a BSc. in Agrotechnology from Universitas Jenderal Soedirman, Indonesia. Robby is from Indonesia and is fluent in both Bahasa Indonesia and English.

Robby Butarbutar

PhD title: "Environmental and social sustainability of coconut farming in tropical countries"

Coconut farming contributes to the livelihoods of millions of people in tropical countries, but rarely features in discussions about biodiversity threats or sustainability. This research aims to study the biodiversity in coconut farms in Indonesia and compare this to other land-uses. To achieve these objectives, an extensive survey of avian and potentially other animal populations will be conducted. Additionally, an investigation into the economic impact of coconut farming on local communities will be carried out. This entails documenting the degree to which individuals depend on coconut farming in comparison to alternative crops and livelihood opportunities. The project involves the comprehensive analysis of datasets from both ecological and social perspectives, employing statistical methods. The ultimate goal is to offer fresh perspectives and insights regarding the management of biodiversity within rural Indonesia.

Awards and prizes

ARIES – SeNSS DTP (UK, 2023)

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Fully funded studentship with the Advanced Research and Innovation in the Environmental Sciences (ARIES) and the South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS)

The David Blakeley Prize (Leeds UK, 2022)

University of Leeds                                                      

The best research project in the Biodiversity & Conservation Masters programme.

Chevening Awards (UK, 2021)

UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)            

A competitive and prestigious scholarship awarded by the UK government to develop international leaders. Scholars are selected based on leadership potential, networking ability, and having a clear career plan.

Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) (Hawaii US, 2018)

US Department of State

A month fellowship in the East-West Center to develop a better understanding of climate change, natural resource management, sustainable development and agricultural practices, food security, ecotourism and energy generation.

Other information

Assist the SEnSOR project to test the impact of RSPO certification on biodiversity conservation in oil palm plantations.

Co-founder @seangle_id – Seangle is an environmental social movement with the vision of becoming a driving force for an environmentally friendly and waste-free Indonesia, with a community that is environmentally conscious.