Paul R. Furumo is an interdisciplinary environmental scientist focused on sustainable land use in the tropics. His current research seeks to scale up zero-deforestation commodity production through improved governance solutions at the interface between public and private sectors. His research integrates remotely sensed data, policy analysis, and expert interviews to understand how policymaking influences land use decisions. A major goal is to enhance the temporal and spatial targeting of instruments to unlock policy synergies that advance climate and development targets.

His past and current research experiences have focused on coupled human-natural systems in Latin America, with a specialization in the Colombian palm oil sector. In Colombia, Paul has pursued his research as a Fulbright fellow and a National Geographic Explorer. His work engages a broad coalition of stakeholders including governments, businesses, civil society, and underrepresented communities. He has brought his science to these stakeholder groups through fieldwork, education and outreach in industry fora, co-development of research, and mentoring of Latin American students.

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras (2018)
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Hawaii Manoa (2011)

All Publications

  • The environmental impacts of palm oil in context. Nature plants Meijaard, E., Brooks, T. M., Carlson, K. M., Slade, E. M., Garcia-Ulloa, J., Gaveau, D. L., Lee, J. S., Santika, T., Juffe-Bignoli, D., Struebig, M. J., Wich, S. A., Ancrenaz, M., Koh, L. P., Zamira, N., Abrams, J. F., Prins, H. H., Sendashonga, C. N., Murdiyarso, D., Furumo, P. R., Macfarlane, N., Hoffmann, R., Persio, M., Descals, A., Szantoi, Z., Sheil, D. 2020; 6 (12): 1418–26


    Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires balancing demands on land between agriculture (SDG 2) and biodiversity (SDG 15). The production of vegetable oils and, in particular, palm oil, illustrates these competing demands and trade-offs. Palm oil accounts for ~40% of the current global annual demand for vegetable oil as food, animal feed and fuel (210 Mt), but planted oil palm covers less than 5-5.5% of the total global oil crop area (approximately 425 Mha) due to oil palm's relatively high yields. Recent oil palm expansion in forested regions of Borneo, Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, where >90% of global palm oil is produced, has led to substantial concern around oil palm's role in deforestation. Oil palm expansion's direct contribution to regional tropical deforestation varies widely, ranging from an estimated 3% in West Africa to 50% in Malaysian Borneo. Oil palm is also implicated in peatland draining and burning in Southeast Asia. Documented negative environmental impacts from such expansion include biodiversity declines, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. However, oil palm generally produces more oil per area than other oil crops, is often economically viable in sites unsuitable for most other crops and generates considerable wealth for at least some actors. Global demand for vegetable oils is projected to increase by 46% by 2050. Meeting this demand through additional expansion of oil palm versus other vegetable oil crops will lead to substantial differential effects on biodiversity, food security, climate change, land degradation and livelihoods. Our Review highlights that although substantial gaps remain in our understanding of the relationship between the environmental, socio-cultural and economic impacts of oil palm, and the scope, stringency and effectiveness of initiatives to address these, there has been little research into the impacts and trade-offs of other vegetable oil crops. Greater research attention needs to be given to investigating the impacts of palm oil production compared to alternatives for the trade-offs to be assessed at a global scale.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41477-020-00813-w

    View details for PubMedID 33299148

  • Scaling up zero-deforestation initiatives through public-private partnerships: A look inside post-conflict Colombia GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS Furumo, P. R., Lambin, E. F. 2020; 62
  • Understanding How Smallholders Integrated into Pericoupled and Telecoupled Systems SUSTAINABILITY Dou, Y., Bicudo da Silva, R., McCord, P., Zaehringer, J. G., Yang, H., Furumo, P. R., Zhang, J., Cristobal Pizarro, J., Liu, J. 2020; 12 (4)

    View details for DOI 10.3390/su12041596

    View details for Web of Science ID 000522460200314

  • Field evidence for positive certification outcomes on oil palm smallholder management practices in Colombia JOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION Furumo, P. R., Rueda, X., Sebastian Rodriguez, J., Ramos, I. 2020; 245
  • Improve Long-Term Biodiversity Management and Monitoring on Certified Oil Palm Plantations in Colombia by Centralizing Efforts at the Sector Level FRONTIERS IN FORESTS AND GLOBAL CHANGE Furumo, P. R., Barrera-Gonzalez, E. I., Espinosa, J. C., Gomez-Zuluaga, G. A., Mitchell Aide, T. 2019; 2
  • Using soundscapes to assess biodiversity in Neotropical oil palm landscapes LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY Furumo, P. R., Aide, T. 2019; 34 (4): 911–23
  • Telecoupling Research: The First Five Years SUSTAINABILITY Kapsar, K. E., Hovis, C. L., Bicudo da Silva, R., Buchholtz, E. K., Carlson, A. K., Dou, Y., Du, Y., Furumo, P. R., Li, Y., Torres, A., Yang, D., Wan, H., Zaehringer, J. G., Liu, J. 2019; 11 (4)

    View details for DOI 10.3390/su11041033

    View details for Web of Science ID 000460819100093

  • Toward Rigorous Telecoupling Causal Attribution: A Systematic Review and Typology SUSTAINABILITY Carlson, A. K., Zaehringer, J. G., Garrett, R. D., Bicudo Silva, R., Furumo, P. R., Raya Rey, A. N., Torres, A., Chung, M., Li, Y., Liu, J. 2018; 10 (12)

    View details for DOI 10.3390/su10124426

    View details for Web of Science ID 000455338100092

  • Characterizing commercial oil palm expansion in Latin America: land use change and trade ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Richard Furumo, P., Mitchell Aide, T. 2017; 12 (2)