William Laurance is a Distinguished Research Professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, and holds an Australian Laureate Fellowship, one of Australia’s highest scientific awards. He also holds the Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation at Utrecht University, Netherlands. 

Laurance received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989.  His research focuses on the impacts of intensive land-uses, such as habitat fragmentation, logging, hunting and wildfires, on tropical forests and their biodiversity.  He is also interested in protected areas, climatic change, the impacts of roads and other infrastructure on biodiversity, and conservation policy.  His research over the past 35 years spans the tropical world, including the Amazon, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions.  To date he has published eight books and over 400 scientific and popular articles. 

A leading voice for conservation, Laurance believes that scientists must actively engage policy makers and the general public, as well as other scientists.  He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. 

Laurance has received many scientific honors including the BBVA Frontiers in Ecology and Conservation Biology Award, a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Heineken Environment Prize.  He is also founder and director of ALERT—the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers, a group that advocates for environmental sustainability.

Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 256+ research outputs authored by Prof Bill Laurance from 1999 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Anonymous Donor - Grant

Limiting Environmental Impacts While Optimizing Benefits of Rapid Road Expansion in the Asia-Pacific Region

Indicative Funding
$2,728,362 over 4 years
We will assess the impacts of roads and other infrastructure on terrestrial ecosystems of the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on rapidly developing frontier areas in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Key goals will include devising land-use planning models to reduce environmental costs, maximise economic benefits, and predict the impacts of new roads and infrastructure on the environment. We will work actively with local partners and stakeholders, and engage in a variety of outreach and dissemination activities, to promote more sustainable infrastructure development in our environmentally critical study area.
Bill Laurance (College of Science & Engineering)
Infrastructure; Deforestation; Roads; Asia-Pacific Region; Agriculture; Land-use Planning

Arcus Foundation - Arcus Foundation Grant

Great Apes Habitats African Infrastructure Project

Indicative Funding
We will explore strategies to predict (using spatial analysis techniques) the environmental impacts of several major 'development corridors? on key ape and wildlife habitats in equatorial Africa. This work will be followed by liaison with decision makers, NGOs, and other stakeholders in the relevant African nations, in an effort to reduce and mitigate the impacts of the development corridors on wildlife. A key goal will be to promote the re-routing of corridors that would bisect important protected areas and the creation of new protected areas or buffer zones to guard key wildlife habitats or migration routes.
Bill Laurance (College of Science & Engineering)
Arfrican Apes; Development Corridors; Protected Areas; Deforestation; Infrastructure; Roads

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Response and vulnerability of tropical rainforest plants to experimental drought

Indicative Funding
$365,000 over 3 years
How will tropical forests respond if droughts should increase in the future? In a globally unique experiment, we will induce artificial rough in an Australian tropical rainforest and then use a canopy crane to assess plant responses at all vertical forest layers. We will contrast demographic and physiological responses of an array of plant species and functional groups, compared to nearby experimental-control plots where tree growth, composition, soil water and atmospheric exchange have been monitored since 1999. Drought responses for key species and functional groups will be compared with their distributions across regional rainfall gradients to yield novel insights into potential rainforest responses to future climate change.
Susan Laurance, Joe Holtum, Bill Laurance and Paul Nelson in collaboration with Jonathan Lloyd and Maurizio Mencuccini (College of Science & Engineering, University of Leeds and University of Edinburgh)
rainforest ecology; climate change adaptations; Ecophysiology

Australia & Pacific Science Foundation - Research Project Grant

Regeneration and recovery dynamics of lowland tropical forests in the Solomon Archipelago

Indicative Funding
$36,000 over 3 years
This study aims to investigate how secondary forests in the Solomon Archipelago recover floristically and functionally over various temporal stages after logging. With the looming prospect of losing all loggable forests within a decade, such a study is vital in order to gain the much needed perspective on how the natural forest is recovering, what factors are affecting the recovery process and how secondary regrowth can be effectively managed through targeted sustainable measures. These anticipated outcomes are very important for Solomon Islands and other tropical oceanic islands where much of the forest have been highly degraded through anthropogenic activities.
Bill Laurance and Eric Katovai (College of Science & Engineering)
logging; forest regeneration; plant functional types; forest degradation; Biodiversity; Ecosystem services

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Projects

Accelerating species richness gains and carbon sequestration in secondary regrowth in north Queensland

Indicative Funding
$310,000 over 3 years, in partnership with the Queensland Herbarium ($150,000 over 3 yrs)
Many tropical rainforests are being cleared and subsequently abandoned as the land becomes fallow. Secondary forests often regenerate in these abandoned sites but are a poor substitute for the original forest, lacking both their high species richness and exceptional carbon storage. Our team of leading researchers and industry partners will investigate the barriers to forest regeneration in tropical Australia and determine how we can accelerate the restoration of these forests to increase their carbon sequestration and biological diversity.
Susan Laurance and Bill Laurance in collaboration with Steve Goosem, Noel Preece and Rod Fensham (College of Science & Engineering, Wet Tropics Management Authority, Biome5 Pty Ltd and Queensland Herbarium)
restoration ecology; Rainforest; regrowth; above-ground carbon

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Australian Laureate Fellowships

Advancing Australian Leadership in Tropical Conservation Science

Indicative Funding
$2,268,134 over 6 years
Tropical forests are being felled, burned, logged, and overhunted at alarming rates, and increasingly suffer from harmful climatic change - jeopardizing much of the world's biodiversity and emitting dangerous greenhouse gases. This Australian Laureate Fellowship will advance a dynamic environmental research program for tropical forests in Australia, the neighbouring Asia-Pacific region, and beyond - focusing on mounting threats including forest fragmentation, road expansion, and destabilizing synergisms between climate change and fire. This cutting-edge program will forge practical solutions to urgent concerns while promoting an array of new research challenges, opportunities, and sources of international funding for Australian scientists.
Bill Laurance (College of Science & Engineering)
tropical forests; Conservation Biology; Landscape ecology; Climatic Change; conservation policy

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Social-ecological Impacts of Landscape Transitions in Southeast Asia (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Quantifying the Value of Riparian Forest Corridors for Medium and Large Mammals in Indonesia's Acacia and Oil Palm Plantations. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Regeneration and Recovery Dynamics of Logged Forests in the Solomon Islands (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Diversity and Habitat use of Mid-Large Sized Mammals Across Oil Palm Landscapes in the Plains of Colombia. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • The Ecological Response of Lianas to Habitat Fragmentation of the Tropical Rainforest. (2016, PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Conservation Challenges of Wet-Tropical Nature Reserves In North-East India;; (2015, PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Foreign Investments in African Extractive Industries: a Focus on China-Africa with Case Studies in Cameroon (2015, PhD, Associate Advisor)
  • The environmental and social impacts of roads in southeast Asia (2013, PhD, Primary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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