Maggie Muurmans helped to establish the only sea turtle conservation and monitoring programme in Sumatra, working closely with the local community of Pulau Banyak. Maggie educated the local community and provided them with tools to stimulate ecotourism and prevent poaching. Her work was rewarded with the Future For Nature Award in 2009. Since then she has continued work in the community engagement space, establishing community engagement programs in Australia and working towards environmental education and capacity building for indigenous communities.
More about Maggie Muurmans
“I was inspired by British naturalist and writer Gerald Durrell. I started my career at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation trust in Jersey (UK), where I worked as a mammal keeper, looking after primates, bears and bats.
I then traded my captive management experience for field work and started work as a research assistant with sea turtles on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. In subsequent years I worked as a research coordinator and project coordinator for a British organization in Costa Rica’s poorer neighbour Nicaragua and helped set up management plans and sea turtle projects in three protected nature reserves in the north-west of the country. I conducted biodiversity surveys in areas without any knowledge of the local flora and fauna and identified biodiversity new to the existing species list. My experience extends to developing environmental education programmes in developing countries as well as teaching primary, secondary and tertiary students in the UK, Malaysia and Australia.”
More about the project
“In Indonesia I helped set up the only sea turtle conservation and monitoring programme in Sumatra, in close collaboration with the local community of Pulau Banyak, to protect the endangered turtles nesting and foraging in the archipelago. Since 2006, our organization, Yayasan Pulau Banyak, has helped to curb local poaching by combining beach patrols and environmental awareness campaigns with turtle friendly income opportunities for locals. Egg poaching has now completely stopped. The project provided the education and tools necessary to make ecotourism a suitable economic substitute for poaching and the project management also seeks to increase local infrastructure and social programmes. The project received true community support, which stemmed from direct, hands-on engagement.
In 2009 my work on sea turtle conservation and environmental work was rewarded with the Future For Nature Award, given to me by Sir David Attenborough. The Award crowned my conservation efforts in three different continents as well as providing international media exposure and acknowledgement for the project, resulting in additional funding and partnerships. Not only that, I had the exceptional experience of meeting Sir David Attenborough, who has inspired many people to conserve our natural environment.”
I currently hold a lecturer position at the University of Queensland and coordinate the coastal community engagement program for the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management on the Gold Coast. This program has a focus on coastal regeneration, citizen science and coastal education. Moving away from species specific work and concentrating more at habitat level, never losing focus on empowering local communities”
“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. – 2009, Annette Lanjouw, International Selection Committee