Who We Are


Orangutan Land Trust  focuses on supporting the preservation, restoration and protection of forests in the areas where orangutans naturally exist or have existed in the past. The main aim is to ensure that there are safe forest areas set aside for orangutans and other species which accompany them within their habitat to form a healthy ecosystem.

When you support Orangutan Land Trust, we are able to use the funds to investigate land to ensure that it is suitable to use for orangutans as well as secure and protect the land to ensure that it remains a safe and flourishing habitat in an effort to keep wild orangutans from extinction.

Orangutan Land Trust is backed by a Scientific Advisory Board made up of some of the best minds working in orangutan and forest conservation. They represent a number of disciplines and specialties, and a range of regions throughout Malaysia and Indonesia. In this way, Orangutan Land Trust can consider where the greatest needs and best possible outcomes can be found, backed by sound science. Its Board of Trustees includes leaders in academia, business, wildlife conservation and sustainability. All potential NGO partners in the field are assessed in regards to previous successful outcomes, their expertise, and transparency. Through such partners, we have supported biodiversity surveys, acquisition of land for a forest school for orphaned orangutans, legal assistance in cases where land has been illegally cleared, leasing and management of islands for sanctuary of orangutans, and releases of orangutans.

Orangutan Land Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (Number 1131878).

The Team

Lone Droscher Nielsen, President and Trustee

Michelle Desilets, Executive Director

Michelle Desilets has been working alongside Lone Droscher Nielsen in orangutan conservation for over 15 years. In 1994, Michelle took her first trip to Borneo, as a volunteer-tourist at the Tanjung Puting National Park. In the years that followed, she continued to visit Borneo as a volunteer for as long as 4 months at a time.

Dr David Chivers, Trustee

Dr David Chivers, MA, PhD, ScD, FLS, FZS, FRGS, was born in April 1944, and from Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood, he came up to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 1963, to read veterinary medicine. Reading Physical Anthropology in his third year, showed him that he could combine his boyhood interest in natural history with a growing interest in our relatives, so he registered for a Ph.D. and went off to the Malay Peninsula for two years to study the ecology and behaviour of the siamang.

Thijs Pasmans, Trustee

Judith Murdoch, Trustee

Dr Ian Singleton, Scientific Advisor

Dr Ian Singleton is Director of Conservation at PanEco Foundation and Scientific Director for the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. He was formerly Senior orangutan keeper at Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust and Animal keeper at Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Zoological Society of London. He studied at the University of Kent (PhD, Ecology; orangutan ranging […]

Dr Marc Ancrenaz, Scientific Advisor

Dr Marc Ancrenaz is the Founder, Director and lead researcher for Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project, and Co-Founder and Scientific Director of Project HUTAN.

Dr Erik Meijaard, Scientific Advisor

Dr Erik Meijaard has worked as a forest conservation scientist in Indonesia since 1992. He has broad research interests, ranging from mammal taxonomy and Asian biogeography to conservation economics, forest management, and spatial optimization studies.

Fitrian Ardiansyah, Scientific Advisor

Fitrian Ardiansyah is Indonesia Country Director at IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative, among others, in charge in ISLA (initiative for sustainable landscapes) and helping coordinate palm oil and pulp and paper programs in Indonesia. He is a Fellow at the International League of Conservation Writers, and a Scientific Advisor for the Orangutan Land Trust. […]

Dr Carl Traeholt, Scientific Advisor

Dr Carl Traeholt is the Southeast Asia Programme Director for Copenhagen Zoo.

Dr John Payne, Scientific Advisor

John (Junaidi) Payne led a State-wide survey of orang-utans in Sabah in the mid-1980s, finding that there were about 20,000 individuals. In that period when half of Sabah’s forests had not been logged and oil palm plantations occupied only 2% of Sabah’s land, it was clear that dense breeding populations of the species were linked […]

Dr Serge Wich, Scientific Advisor

Serge Wich is a biologist/ecologist with a keen interest in primates and tropical rain forests. His work focuses on pure and applied research. He has studied several primate species, but has been mainly focusing on orangutans and their habitat in recent years. He currently is a professor at Liverpool John Moores University in the Research […]

Bart W van Assen, Technical Advisor

Bart W. van Assen studied tropical forestry at Larenstein International High School and Wageningen University. He worked for various firms on long- and short-term assignments, including the Indonesian Ecolabelling Institute (Lembaga Ekolabel Indonesia), Global Forest Watch (USA), the Institute for Agro-Technological Research and SBW Consultancy & Research (Netherlands). Bart has over 20 years experience in […]

Juliarta Bramansa Ottay, Scientific Advisor

Dr Helen Murrogh-Bernard, Scientific Advisor

Helen Morrogh Bernard is Project Director and Orangutan Behaviour Research Director at the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project. Helen began her research in the Sabangau Forest in July 1995 with the University of Nottingham KALTROP research team, returning in 1996 to complete her undergraduate zoology dissertation mapping orangutan density at the CIMTROP research site in the northern Sabangau Ecosystem.

Dr Susan Cheyne, Scientific Advisor

  Susan M. Cheyne BSc (Hons) PhD CBiol MIBiol FRGS FLS Orang-utan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop) Director of Gibbon and Felid Research and Conservation. Scientific Director Barito River Initiative for Nature Conservation and Communities (BRINCC). Associate Lecturer, Oxford Brookes University Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Dr Benoît Goossens, Scientific Advisor

Benoît Goossens is the Director of the Danau Girang Field Centre in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, a research and training facility co-managed by Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University. He is also a Senior Research Associate at Cardiff University and he has more than 15 years of experience in the field of conservation genetics, […]

Dr Meredith Bastian, Scientific Advisor

Dr. Meredith Bastian, curator of primates at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, spent more than seven years studying the behavior, genetics and ecology of wild Bornean orangutans in Central Kalimantan.

Graham Usher, Scientific Advisor

Graham Usher is a Landscape Protection Specialist with the PanEco Foundation, where he undertakes analysis of habitat change and forest loss in northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

Dr Jito Sugardjito, Scientific Advisor

Ang Lee (OBS), Patron

Ang Lee is a film director, screenwriter and producer. He has won Oscars for directing Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain. His love for orangutans began many years ago and he has visited Borneo to see orangutans in their natural forest habitat. Ang cares deeply for the planet and the creatures that inhabit it and has […]

Steve Leonard, Patron

Steve Leonard is a veterinary surgeon and television presenter. Steve presented 2 series of Orangutan Diary, alongside fellow Orangutan Land Trust patron, Michaela Strachan. Since meeting Grendon and the other orangutans at BOS Nyaru Menteng, he has developed a strong passion for the conservation of  orangutans.

Michaela Strachan, Patron

Michaela Strachan has long supported the work of Lone Droscher-Nielsen and BOS Nyaru Menteng since she first visited the project to film the BBC series Orangutan Diary.

Alasdair Davies, Website Developer

Before starting University, Alasdair importantly took a 1 month break to travel Europe. During his travels he realised that his desire to support conservation activities was ever important and his experience travelling pushed him towards mixing his graphic design work with conservation, using University as a means to exploring how digital media could be used to affect change.