School of Resource and Environmental Management

Research Profile: Brent Loken, Resource and Environmental Management

January 20, 2012

Congratulations to Brent Loken, who was recently awarded both the Trudeau Doctoral Scholarship and Vanier Canada Graduate PhD Scholarship to pursue his research in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University.

Brent has lived and worked overseas since 1994 in countries such as Syria, Pakistan, Bolivia, Tanzania, Taiwan and Indonesia. Recently, Brent founded an NGO, Ethical Expeditions, that is working in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo with the indigenous Wehea Dayak community to help build a sustainable social-ecological system.

This summer, Brent is in Borneo leading a biodiversity study of the unexplored 38,000 hectare Wehea Forest and assisting with an ethnoecological study with the Wehea Dayak community. Both studies are part of a resilience analysis of the Wehea social-ecological system. He is also leading a group of 12 university students from across North America on a field school in Wehea.

Brent’s PhD research will investigate the resilience and sustainability of social-ecological systems in Borneo. He is interested in the configuration of variables or factors that lead to sustainable resource use. To that end, he is examining factors such as governance, ecology, culture and policies using Elinor Ostrom’s social-ecological systems framework as a guide and tools such as social-network analysis.

Additionally, he will investigate how REDD+ (reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation) is impacting and may continue to impact local communities who are implementing this program to help protect their forests.

January 20 Update

Courtesy of SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations, a roundup of Brent's research in the news around the world!

The discovery by SFU student Brent Loken of a monkey so rare it had been feared almost extinct was an instant hit with news media—with our monitors spotting 228 stories around the world within hours of the first news release.

SFU news release (from Dixon Tam, PAMR, with video and photos):


A few samples of coverage:

  • The Vancouver Sun: “The humidity was oppressive and the leeches insufferable as an expedition led by Simon Fraser University PhD student Brent Loken waded into the jungles of the Wehea Forest in eastern Borneo. . . .  With remote cameras set up in the forest near two mineral licks, Loken had hoped to obtain photos of the elusive and little known clouded leopard.
        What he got was a monkey—the Miller's grizzled langur—so rare that scientists consider it to be teetering on the edge of extinction. Even rarer, the discovery occurred where the monkey had not historically been documented.
        ‘We knew we had something special,’ Loken, 40, recalled Thursday in an interview. ‘We knew it was unique because it is a very distinct-looking monkey.’" Full story:
  • The Associated Press (in the Washington Post): “Forests where the monkeys once lived had been destroyed by fires, human encroachment and conversion of land for agriculture and mining and an extensive field survey in 2005 turned up empty.
        “For me the discovery of this monkey is representative of so many species in Indonesia," Loken told The Associated Press by telephone.
        “There are so many animals we know so little about and their home ranges are disappearing so quickly,’ he said. ‘It feels like a lot of these animals are going to quickly enter extinction.
    Full story:
  • BBC News: “‘Our findings confirm that indeed this monkey still lives in the forests of Borneo and we found that its range extends farther inland than scientists had previously thought,’ said PhD student Brent Loken from Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada. "This gives us hope that we may still be able to find large enough populations of this monkey to ensure its survival.’" Full story:
  • The UK’s Daily Mail: “Brent Loken, from Simon Fraser University, Canada, said: 'While our finding confirms the monkey still exists in East Kalimantan, there is a good chance that it remains one of the world's most endangered primates.'
        “'I believe it is a race against time to protect many species in Borneo. It is difficult to adopt conservation strategies to protect species when we don't even know the extent of where they live.'” Full story:
  • The science website of “‘Locals knew they lived in this forest but had no idea what they were looking at. When we saw them, we were shocked,’ said conservation scientist Brent Loken of Simon Fraser University, co-author of a study published online Jan. 20 in the American Journal of Primatology.
        “Little is known about the grizzled langurs, scientifically known as Presbytis hosei canicrus. Loken and his colleagues will have a prime opportunity to study the exceedingly rare monkeys, but they will have to move quickly.
        “‘There’s still intense debate of whether or not the Indonesian government will grant legal protection status for Wehea (a rainforest preserve),’ Loken said. ‘You could say this is very good timing for the rediscovery.’”
    Full story:
  • Scientific American: “Two teams of researchers—working independently of each other—have located two new populations of the animals in Wehea Forest, 150 kilometers inland from their previously known locations.
        Stephanie Spehar, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, was in Wehea studying the behavioral ecology of the area’s other primates . . . when one of her students, Eric Fell, captured photos of a primate they did not recognize.
        “Eight kilometers away, a research team led by Brent Loken, a PhD student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, had set up camera traps hoping to capture images of the elusive Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi). Instead, they also found images of a primate they did not recognize.
        “Spehar and Loken, who each work with the local Wehea Dayak community to help preserve the forest, compared notes and concluded that they had observed the same species.” Full story:
  • Epoch Times: “‘It was a challenge to confirm our finding as there are so few pictures of this monkey available for study,’ Loken explained. ‘The only description of Miller’s Grizzled Langur came from museum specimens. Our photographs from Wehea are some of the only pictures that we have of this monkey.’” Full story:
  • Agence France Presse:
  • South Asian News Agency:
  • The Guardian (UK):
  • CBC News:
  • Toronto Sun (QMI) news service:
  • Huffington Post:
  • International Business Times:
  • American Journal of Primatology news release:
No comments yet

Recent Blog Posts

  • External Award: WorkSafeBC Innovation at Work Grants December 04, 2019
    The 2018 WorkSafe BC Innovation at Work competition launches November 3, 2017, with an application deadline in late January or early February. The award is generally $50,000 and is geared towards funding proposals that are innovative and practical.

  • Call for Proposal: 17th Symposium on Teaching and Learning March 01, 2019
    The SFU Teaching and Learning Centre invites interactive and innovative proposals that demonstrate how your practice, research, or scholarly inquiry relates to the theme of Assessing and Celebrating Teaching and Student Learning. Deadline: Mar 22

  • Tea Time Talk March 01, 2019
    Join the event on Mar 18 to enjoy afternoon tea while sharing with us a conversation on how SFU can foster a culture of fairness, belonging and diversity. RSVP now

View Posts by Category