Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.


Access Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Native to the world’s third-largest tropical rainforest, the indigenous people of West Papua, known as Papuan, have experienced substantial changes to their ecosystem over the last several decades, primarily to their water resources. As surface water has been a primary asset for drinking water consumption and their livelihoods for generations, the increase in pollution from expanding oil palm plantations impacts many lives. Receiving limited attention, disentangling this water injustice from power relations as a byproduct of the state-backed development, corporate-driven expansions, and consumer demand become pivotal to advocating for the indigenous community and their livelihoods. Therefore, this study explores integrating physical evidence of agricultural runoff from oil palm plantations and indigenous perceptions using hydro-social territories in a remote area in West Papua, Indonesia. Due to the lack of long-term investigations of the impact of water contamination in West Papua, a hydrological model will be used to assess the nature of the oil palm impact within the watershed. As deterioration in water quality is expected due to landscape changes, the indigenous perception of hydrological changes is crucial to determine how significant the impact is on local livelihoods. Semi-structured interviews will be used to study the perception of indigenous communities on water resources and threats of oil palm to their livelihood. The synthesis of those results will later be concluded using the hydro-social approach, involving a multi-scale analysis that includes Indonesian state and corporate actors through literature reviews from various sources (e.g., official documentation, corporate reports, and journals). This research will develop strategies to protect indigenous communities not yet impacted by large-scale changes in the watershed resulting from palm oil plantations.


First Advisor

Timothy Randhir

Second Advisor

Eric Thomas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.