Otto Soemarwoto

Otto Soemarwoto

Prof. Dr. Otto Soemarwoto (Purwokerto, 19 February 1926Bandung, 1 April 2008) was a professor of plant physiology at Padjajaran University and was director of the National Biology Institute from 1964 to 1972; he also served as director of the Institute of Ecology from 1972 until 1991. His work in the latter role has been cited as a primary influence on the resettlement strategy during Indonesia's Saguling Dam project.


As a child, Soemarwoto was an avid reader, liked traveling out of town and was fond of plants. He studied at a nautical training high school in Cilacap and, after completing his training at the high school, he worked as a deck officer on a wooden boat that travelled the Jakarta-Lampung route. Soemarwoto joined the student militia during the Indonesian struggle for independence, and upon its proclamation continued his studies at the School of Agriculture at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Yogyakarta, of which he graduated in 1949.

He taught at UGM before being sent to study plant physiology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he stayed until 1959. An avid environmentalist, the professor was appointed so in 1960. In 1964 he was named director of the Bogor Botanical Garden at Padjajaran University.

Soemarwoto has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Wageningen University in Holland, the Order of the Golden Ark from Holland's Prince Bernhard, and the Global 500 award from the United Nations Environment Programme. He died on April 1, 2008, aged 82.

Books authored

  • Berkelanjutan: Antara Konsep dan Realitas (Sustainable Development: between Concept and Reality, 2006)


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