Dirk Steenbergen

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Dirk Steenbergen is a post-doctoral fellow under the Northern Australian Marine Research Alliance (NAMRA), and works at RIEL on issues of small scale fisheries management and (coastal) community development in the Arafura Timor Sea Region. He completed his PhD on Community Development, Resource Governance and Conservation in 2013 and continues this line of research in his post-doctoral fellowship.

 Dirk’s interest in human-environment interactions derives from his BSc and MSc training in Nature Conservation Policy and Management at Wageningen University. During this period he was involved in various community conservation initiatives: first working on human wildlife conflict management among indigenous San communities in sub-Saharan Africa and later working on community participation in marine protection area (MPA) management among the semi-nomadic Bajo communities of Wakatobi National Park in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. Dirk has since worked extensively in the Southeast Asia region: (i) between 2007-2008 as a socio economic specialist in a biodiversity corridor development initiative in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS); and after that, (ii) between 2009-2013, as a PhD researcher looking at co-management and governance arrangements around Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) in remote eastern Indonesia. This research involved long-term ethnographic engagements with fishing communities. Additionally he has carried out consultancies in his various collaborations with conservation NGOs over the years, mainly facilitating outreach activities, community engagement and participatory data collection and monitoring with resources user groups.

Dirk’s current work continues in the coastal and marine resource context and expands his existing eastern Indonesia focus to incorporate coastal community cases from Timor Leste. The post-doctoral research project brings together various stakeholders including practice-oriented natural resource managers, local communities, technical conservation and fisheries agencies, and government institutions. The research thus has strong intention of contributing to current practices towards sustainable costal resource management.

Areas of Research Interest

  • Sustainable governance of coastal resources and small-scale fisheries (co-) management
  • Anthropology, community development and local livelihoods
  • Fostering partnerships and facilitating across interfaces between actor groups
  • Human-Environment relationships in (indigenous) resource-dependant cultures
  • Interplay between ‘agency of people’ and ‘institutional structure’ in collective action and resource management regimes
  • Mediating paradoxical interests of development and biodiversity conservation, both locally and within multi-scalar frameworks
  • Sustainable tourism initiatives and public-private partnership arrangements with local civil society in contexts of conservation and development


Doctor of Philosophy in Community Development, Resource Governance, & Conservation, at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia.

Masters of Science in Nature Conservation Policy and Management, at the Wageningen University (WU), The Netherlands.

[Minor in Rural Development Sociology]

Bachelor of Science in Forest & Nature Conservation (with specialization in Policy and Management) at the Wageningen University (WU), The Netherlands.

[Minor in Sustainable Tourism Studies]


Countries of work experience

  • Namibia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos PDR, Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor Leste & Australia.
Year Type Citation
2014 Book Chapter McCarthy, J. et al. Indonesia Update ANU (ISEAS, 2014).
2013 Thesis Steenbergen, D. J. Negotiating the Future of Local ‘Backwaters’: Participatory Marine Conservation on Small Islands in Eastern Indonesia. PhD thesis in Community Development, Resource Governance & Conservation, (2013).
2013 Conference Paper Steenbergen, D. J. Reshaping Marine Conservation Policing in Raja Ampat. A Private Dive Tourism Operator Addressing Local Illegal Fishing Practices. Annual Meeting of Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) (2013).
2013 Journal Article Steenbergen, D. J. The Role of Tourism in Addressing Illegal Fishing: The Case of a Dive Operator in Indonesia. Contemporary Southeast Asia 35, 188-214 (2013).
2012 Conference Paper Steenbergen, D. J. Integrating Culture & Conservation: The workings of a Locally Managed Marine Area in Eastern Indonesia. 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) (2012).
2011 Conference Paper Steenbergen, D. J. Locally Managed Marine Areas in Eastern Indonesia: Opportunity rather than restriction. People & the Sea VI, Bridging science and policy for sustainable coasts and seas (Centre for Maritime Research (MARE), 2011).
2011 Website Steenbergen, D. J. Staying afloat in changing tides. In: Feature Edition on Villages and the Environment, Inside Indonesia: No. 106. (2011).
2010 Report Steenbergen, D. J., Marlessy, C. & Morin, S. Impacts on Our Reefs: Meos Mangguandi and Auki Islands in the Padaido Islands of Biak in Papua. Report Prepared for the Asia Pacific LMMA Network Meeting (2010).
2009 Report Steenbergen, D. J. The State of Environment & Conservation Studies in North Lao PDR: Illicit Trade of Wildlife. Report prepared for workshop: Research Prospects in N. Lao PDR, The French-Upper Mekong Sub-region Academic Cooperation (Mae Fah Luang University, 2009).
2008 Report Steenbergen, D. J. Sustainable Natural Resources & Environmental Management relevant to Biodiversity Conservation Corridors in Lao PDR: Overall Socio-economic and Land use Assessment. Report prepared for the BCI Project & Initial Regional Synthesis of Socio-Economic and Land Use Study Results (Faculty of Economic & Business Admin, National University of Laos, Vientiane, 2008).
2008 Report Steenbergen, D. J. Cambodia’s Natural Resource & Environmental Management in the BCI. Report prepared for the BCI Project & Initial Regional Synthesis of Socio-economic and Land Use Study Results (Royal University of Phnom Penh & Mae Fah Luang University, 2008).
2007 Report Steenbergen, D. J. & de, K. J. Assessment of the influence of institutional factors on management decisions by small farmers in the Amazon. Report prepared for the FORLIVE Working Programme 2 Workshop: Data Analysis Working Package II (Wageningen University, 2007).
2006 Thesis Steenbergen, D. J. People in Policy & Policy in People: An Actor-Oriented Approach to Policy Implementation in Marine Natural Resource Management. The case of Wakatobi National Park, Indonesia. Major MSc thesis in Nature Conservation Policy and Management, (2006).
2005 Thesis Steenbergen, D. J. Community-based Conservation in Focus. An exploration of Nyae Nyae’s Conservation Institution, in context of participation, actor relations and social trends. (2005).

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