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ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes

Liaw Lin Ji

Young environmental leader plants seeds of change to bring forth a new generation of biodiversity champions

In taking on the challenge of protecting Brunei’s biodiversity, Liaw Lin Ji knows all too well that there’s strength in numbers – and age. So when the young leader founded non-governmental organization Biodiversity and Natural History Society (BruWILD) in 2014, she aimed to engage the youth, along with the public, to do their role in conserving the country’s flora and fauna through nature-based education and other activities. 

As the group’s founder, the 34-year-old environment specialist works with a group of passionate and like-minded biologists from different fields of interests with a vision to create a world where nature and humans can survive and thrive in harmony. 

Eight years later, BruWILD has remained one of the most prominent youth-led environmental groups in Brunei, reaching hundreds of schoolchildren and inspiring them to take part in biodiversity conservation and climate change-related initiatives.

To ensure greater accessibility to biodiversity knowledge for people of all ages, Ms. Liaw and BruWILD work closely with important stakeholders in the Brunei government, academic institutions, as well as private sectors to conduct biodiversity educational roadshows, produce biodiversity documentaries, and develop educational materials for local schools and institutions. 

With the hopes of sparking curiosity and inspiring connection to environment among the youth, the group ensures that schoolchildren can access fun, creative, and interactive biodiversity information through print and online platforms.

Driven by her passion for biodiversity conservation and protection, Ms. Liaw shows no signs of stopping – and not even a global pandemic can deter her dedication. While COVID-19 made it challenging for BruWILD to run their normal activities, she managed to overcome the limitations by creating more virtual content such as downloadable content and conducting online talks to continue educating and engaging the public.

Through Ms. Liaw’s leadership, BruWILD has earned a stellar reputation as a conservation and environmental group, which led to numerous recognitions within the country and the region. In 2015, the team received the ASEAN Green Award during a ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. BruWILD was also awarded the Model Project 2017 for Brunei’s National Youth Day Celebration. For her role at BruWILD, Ms. Liaw herself was nominated to receive the distinguished ASEAN Youth Eco-Champions award in 2019. 

In addition to being at the forefront of BruWILD, Ms. Liaw is currently the Head of Environmental Solutions & Brunei Country Manager of an international environmental consultancy firm, DHI Water & Environment. Since being part of the firm in 2013, she has managed and executed numerous Environmental Baseline Studies (EBS), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Environmental Management and Monitoring (EMMP) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) projects in the region, including Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia. With a strong background in biodiversity management and field ecology, Ms. Liaw is instrumental in ensuring project development impacts to biodiversity are prevented or minimised. 

Ms. Liaw actively participates in the execution of ecological and biodiversity surveys, focusing on floristic composition of the tropical forests. She is also a core member of the firm’s Sustainability Group, pioneering innovative blue carbon and nature-based solutions in many countries including the United States of America (USA), Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines.

At 34, Ms. Liaw’s vast knowledge and fluency in biodiversity management and field ecology through her work execution and delivery have positively impacted other individuals in realising the importance of conserving the biodiversity. Her professionalism, combined with her bright, cheerful and cordial personality, has earned her a great respect within the country.

Her leadership in the biodiversity protection projects has led to tangible results within the community, such as the construction of new local university in the vicinity of environmentally sensitive area. Ms. Liaw’s initiatives also contributed to the relocation of fauna as part of the environmental management and monitoring plan, pitcher plan relocation for pulp paper recycling project, and seagrass relocation for an oil and gas project.

With her unwavering commitment towards understanding the precarious and multi-faceted nature of biodiversity and related disciplines, Ms. Liaw is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Biodiversity Wildlife and Ecosystem Health Management with the University of Edinburgh.

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