Natasha Mannion

“Biodiversity responses to infrastructure expansion in the Heart of Borneo, Brunei Darussalam” 

Twitter: @MannionNatasha; Email:; LinkedIn:

Infrastructure expansion is rapidly increasing worldwide, as the construction of 25 million km of new roads is forecasted by 2050. This is associated with myriad negative environmental impacts, including habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, roadkill, and natural resource exploitation, particularly hunting. Infrastructure expansion is a particular threat in the tropics, which as well as containing many biodiversity and endemism hotspots, are also some of the most threatened ecosystems globally. 

Borneo is one of these hotspots, and has also experienced rapid deforestation over recent decades. Brunei Darussalam (a small country on Borneo) has largely retained its forest cover, and may represent a refuge for Borneo’s tropical forest species. However, in 2020 the 30 km long Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Bridge, connecting rural and heavily forested Temburong with the rest of the country. The impacts of this, and potential associated infrastructure expansion, threatens Brunei’s biodiversity, including its iconic mammal species.

In 2022 I conducted field research in Temburong, Brunei Darussalam to investigate the impacts of infrastructure expansion on mammal biodiversity. This included ecological fieldwork (camera trap and vegetation surveys) and social science research (household surveys and interviews investigating hunting behaviours). 

My research aims to: 

  1. Assess the abundance and diversity of mammal species in Temburong’s forests under “no impact” conditions.
  1. Assess the abundance and diversity of mammal species in the Temburong’s forests along pressure gradients arising from infrastructure and hunting.
  2. Gain understanding of hunting behaviour in Temburong and investigate how this may vary with proximity to new bridge and roads. 
  3. Identify ‘least environmental cost scenarios’ for infrastructure expansion based on scenario models derived from development plans by the Brunei government.

Through my research outcomes I aim to collaborate with the Bruneian Ministry of Development to inform their development policy for Temburong, to co-create equitable solutions that ensure a future for both biodiversity and people in the district. 

Key Themes: Acoustic monitoring, Biodiversity, Camera traps, Infrastructure, Mammals, Modelling, Remote Sensing, Roads, Scenario Modelling. 

Supervisors: Dr Rachel Gaulton, Dr Marion Pfeifer, Prof Stephen Willis (Durham University), Prof Ferry Slik (Universiti Brunei Darussalam), Dr Merlin Francis (Universiti Brunei Darussalam)

N. L. M. Mannion, J. K. Charles, R. Gaulton, J. W. S. How, S. Khalid, M. Pfeifer, J. W. F. Slik 11 2023 ‘A novel white mouse deer observation in Brunei Darussalam’, Mammalia 87 (6), doi: