After working as coordinator in three nature reserves in Nicaragua, Maggie Muurmans set up Yayasan Pulau Banyak in Indonesia in 2006. It is the only sea turtle conservation and monitoring programme in Sumatra. The sea turtles main threats include habitat and nesting site destruction, by-catch, illegal trade and unsustainable exploitation. Together with the local community she managed to curb the poaching of sea turtles and to stop egg poaching completely.
Nowadays, Maggie is managing coastal community engagement programmes for the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management in Australia. Moreover, she is co-founder and treasurer for Oceans Connect, which researches mangroves, rocky shores and marine debris issues.
Maggie Muurmans protects endangered sea turtles, nesting and foraging in Indonesia. After her internship for her study in animal management, she traded her captive management experience for fieldwork, and started as a research assistant with sea turtles in Costa Rica. In the following years she worked as a research and project coordinator in Nicaragua, and helped set up management plans and sea turtle projects in three protected nature reserves. In 2006, she set up Yayasan Pulau Banyak, a programme to protect the endangered turtles in Indonesia. Maggie now manages coastal community engagement programmes for the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management in Australia. Aside from this, she co-founded and is treasurer for the organisation Oceans Connect, which researches mangroves, rocky shores and marine debris issues.
Vision and Approach
Indonesia is located close to important migration routes and provides important nesting and foraging grounds, making it an attractive home to six out of seven sea turtle species. All six sea turtles are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Their main threats include habitat and nesting site destruction, by-catch, illegal trade and unsustainable exploitation. Maggie set up Yayasan Pulau Banyak, the only sea turtle conservation and monitoring programme in Sumatra. Because Maggie worked closely together with the local community of Pulau Banyak, the project received true community support. By combining beach patrols and environmental awareness campaigns with turtle-friendly income opportunities for locals, she has helped to curb local poaching of sea turtles. The project provides education and tools necessary to make ecotourism a suitable economic alternative to poaching. Egg poaching has now completely stopped and the area is seeing an increasing number of Indonesian and foreign tourists who visit the sea turtle project and enjoy Pulau Banyak. Aside from this, Maggie uses her experience in conservation to develop environmental education programmes in developing countries, as well as teaching primary, secondary and tertiary students in the UK, Malaysia and Australia.
“The Future For Nature Award Crowned my conservation efforts in three different continents and provided international media exposure and acknowledgement for the project. This resulted in additional funding and partnerships. On top of that, I had the exceptional good fortune of meeting Sir David Attenborough, who has inspired so many people to conserve our natural environment.”Maggie Muurmans
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- Winning the Future For Nature award provided international media exposure and acknowledgement for Yayasan Pulau Banyak, resulting in additional funding and new partnerships.
After seven years of working with the communities in Indonesia the project has grown into a sustainable enterprise, entirely run by local people, supported by government organisations. In 2012, with the Indonesian project handed over to the community, Maggie moved to Australia and established a not for profit organisation “Ocean Connect Inc.” which has a focus on marine education. In 2014, she also accepted a role to manage the coastal community engagement programme at Griffith University in South East Queensland, on the Eastern coast of Australia.
At the start of 2020 Maggie commenced a PhD with a focus on supporting local communities towards effective engagement and inclusive governance in conservation management. Her aim is to increase the effectiveness of community engagement efforts in conservation and focus on local initiatives in low income nations
"Maggie Muurmans has used her leadership skills to empower Indonesian local populations and strengthen existing local organizations in focusing on the conservation issues of sea turtles and coastal ecology. This strong emphasis on sustainability, building skills and leadership for conservation, is the only approach that will effectively have long-term impact.''Ms. Annette Lanjouw, International Selection Committee