Sustainable Finance Specialist
Area of work
Southeast Asia
Sustainable Finance
Nature-based solutions
Google Scholar

Reuben has over 18 years of experience as a conservation scientist and is now our Sustainable Finance Specialist

As a graduate student Reuben began his research in the Kenyir watershed in Terengganu, Malaysia in 2010. The rainforests of Kenyir span 200,000 hectares and are considered one of the oldest in the world. During his PhD Reuben's research not only uncovered high levels of mammalian species richness, but also rampant levels of poaching and diminishing wildlife habitats due to improper logging. 

Finding a three-legged tiger that lost a limb from a snare on camera traps, and discovering a dead elephant on a logging road were really frustrating moments. Seeing huge tracts of forests cleared for a new hydroelectric dams was heart-breaking. Reuben felt he couldn’t leave Kenyir after he completed his PhD and believes that without more carbon sinks and wildlife habitats under protection with sustainable financing, it will be impossible to tackle the planet’s climate emergency and biodiversity crisis.

By 2018, after overcoming several challenges, Reuben helped to create the State’s first state park spanning 30,000 hectares. The same challenges remain, however, five years later, Reuben is now our Sustainable Finance Specialist.

Reuben is passionate about the development of nature-based solutions to ensure there is 25-30 years of funding for the long-term survival of wildlife and indigenous people in Kenyir's forests. This can serve as a proof of concept to local governments to scale up the protection of other threatened ecosystems in Malaysia and beyond.

Representing ZSL’s Sustainable Finance Programme in Southeast Asia, Reuben currently helps to develop projects harnessing nature-based solutions for greater conservation impact in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, while engaging with ASEAN finance institutions to assess biodiversity and deforestation risks in their portfolios.