Professor Gerard Persoon is Scientific Director of the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University. He holds the IIAS chair for Environment and Development in particular in relation to indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia. He has a background in anthropology and environmental science. He is a member of the Dutch governmental committee for sustainable timber and a number a other organizations in the field of environment and development.
His research focus is on human-environment interaction in various types of environments but mainly of forest-dwelling peoples in Indonesia and the Philippines. He has been involved in numerous research and training projects in the Southeast Asian region and he has also been involved in nature conservation projects. He has published on development processes among indigenous peoples, co-management and conservation of natural resources, and issues related to island societies.