Award winner 2018
Location: Indonesia

Adam Miller

Adam Miller is an American ornithologist working to conserve delicate ecosystems in Indonesia. His fascination for tropical birds led him to co-establish Planet Indonesia in 2014, hoping to end the Indonesian caged bird trade. After realising the extent of the struggles of local communities in Borneo, it became clear that it would not be possible to protect its nature without first addressing the underlying issues Indigenous and rural communities faced. For this reason, Planet Indonesia uses a human rights based approach to unlock locally-led solutions to biodiversity loss. Adam integrates livelihoods, healthcare, and education through a holistic ‘systems approach’ to address issues such as biodiversity loss, climate change, and food security. While birds are what first brought him to Indonesia, his work has expanded over the past five years across marine, coastal, and terrestrial ecosystems.


From a young bird lover from Missouri, Adam Miller grew to become an international conservationist and social entrepreneur. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University, USA. Adam worked his way through his undergraduate degree and raised his own funds for his research projects. In 2013 he received a Fulbright fellowship to go to Indonesia. He first arrived in Indonesia to investigate the caged bird trade, but he quickly noticed that the hardships local communities faced were far beyond what he expected. Soon after, Adam co-founded the NGO Planet Indonesia, in 2014. He has been working as Executive Director of Planet Indonesia ever since.


Vision and Approach

Adam believes the key to protecting the amazing biodiversity in Indonesia lies in the hands of Indigenous and rural communities. Indonesia is home to an astounding 17% of the world’s biodiversity. However, as many biodiversity rich places on Earth, its ecosystems are threatened. At the same time, local communities are struggling, pushing many people to seek additional sources of income in the illegal trade of wildlife and other exploitative activities. Adam envisions an inclusive world where these communities are not side-lined in conservation. By placing the needs of local communities in the centre of their conservation efforts, Planet Indonesia is helping to address some of Indonesia’s most wicked social-ecological problems. Over the past 6 years his work has expanded from working alongside 17 families to well over 25,000. The communities his work supports manage and safeguard close to 1 million hectares of biodiverse marine, coastal, and terrestrial habitat. Alongside these communities Adam and his team have created the first Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) on the island of Borneo, seen drops in deforestation by as much as 80% across project sites, and poaching rates have dropped by nearly 96% in Planet Indonesia’s flagship site- Gunung Niut Nature Reserve. In addition, service provisions have increased access to healthcare for thousands, improve farmer harvest rates by over 60%, and created economic safety nets through his organisation’s flagship Conservation Cooperative approach.

Impact of the Future For Nature Award

The financial support from the Future For Nature Award allowed Adam to:

  • reach new communities across project sites, providing critically important services through the Conservation Cooperative model while reducing habitat loss.
  • support his “micro-finance programme”, which offers loans to current bird shop owners to start alternative businesses.
  • help expand and increase the capacity of SMART patrols in Gunung Niut Nature Reserve.
"Adam Miller tackles a truly bio rich yet overlooked region of Indonesia. He shows great dedication and has achieved quite a lot of success in this difficult region plagued with logging, poaching animal trade, illegal mining and officials corruption."
Mr. John MacKinnon, International Selection Committee