Conservation

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. -Jane Goodall-

The world is connected in many ways. Thus everything you do, and not do, affects something else besides you. I fell in love with nature already at a young age. And as a kid, I was still optimistic about being able to save the planet (as kids should be!). But learning about the world, and about life, has made me more pessimistic and maybe even cynical. An attitude that is not giving the world anything. The biggest accomplishments in nature conservation are probably made by optimists, by people with hope, by dreamers. And as long as you can dream it, you can do it.   

Can I Help You?

I happily offer my expertise as an academic scientist in the field of animal behaviour to assist nature conservation organisations. Would you like advice on study design, data analysis, literature review, report writing or otherwise? Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Exploring Conservation Conflicts

“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge” – Thomas Berger –

Tanja Straka and I like asking questions. Even more so, we like animals, nature and people. Unfortunately, these three do not always mix well and we want to learn why.

Coming from our respective backgrounds in social sciences and animal sciences, we want to learn about the ins and outs of wildlife conservation conflicts by exploring different perspectives. Because we are convinced that understanding the diverse aspects of conservation conflicts could also open our minds to a diversity of (new) ways to address them.

With that in mind, we are keen to explore Conservation Biology and Animal Behaviour (Ethology), Moral Philosophy (Ethics) and the Human Dimensions of Wildlife (Social Sciences) and their perspectives on real-life conservation conflict situations.

In a blog on Medium (and on Twitter), we would like to share the different viewpoints we encounter in our daily lives and work and to invite people to share their perspectives.

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Connect to us and let’s explore together!

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Find the shared ground.

Conservation behaviour SCB working group

There is now a provisional Society of Conservation Biology (SCB) working group on Animal Behavior in Conservation. Help us reach 100 members and get from provisional to official! You can help shape the program, we’d love to hear your ideas! Join the if you haven’t already (always a good idea) and sign up ‘officially’ to our group. Contact for info/details.

Stay informed about our working group activities by following us on Twitter and by joining the ‘listserv’ by signing up for our Google group, conveniently named Animal Behavior in Conservation Working Group: https://groups.google.com/a/conbio.org/forum/#!forum/animalbehavior

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Systematic maps and reviews as tools to make behavioural ecology applicable to conservation

How can a behavioural ecologist contribute to conservation? It is a question I often ask myself. Therefore I am very happy to have become part of a team of behavioural ecologists that asks the same question. Together we followed a workshop by Mistra EviEM on how to conduct a systematic map or review and are now answering questions about the effectiveness of conservation interventions. In our case, behavioural interventions.

It is not an easy challenge, to gather and review all the literature that is out there on a given intervention, academic and grey. But, without a good overview of the best evidence available, how are we going to stop ourselves from doing the same thing over and over again? Are certain interventions effective, also on the long-term, or not at all? Are there certain conditions to be met for them to be of use?

We recently published an Opinion article about this topic in Behavioral Ecology and received five very interesting commentaries. See here our response.

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I set out to answer these questions for an intervention in a very urgent and increasingly bigger conservation challenge: Human-Wildlife-Conflict (HWC). More specifically, I will map and review studies on the effectiveness of conditioning-interventions in reducing HWC with vertebrates. In other words Can wildlife be taught to stay away?

It will be a long, challenging, but useful process and I am very keen to do it!

Future For Nature Academy

Proud to be part of the Future For Nature Academy (FFNA)! An initiative started for young motivated nature conservationists in the Netherlands to create a platform where they can find each other and build a network. As an official spinoff of Future For Nature (FFN) several national activities will be organized. The FFNA Facebook keeps you up to date with all upcoming activities and recent developments in nature conservation. And soon you can keep track via the website www.ffnacademy.org.

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Future Forest Malawiffw_logo

After finishing her PhD, my colleague and friend Maaike de Jong ventured out to Malawi. Confronted with the countless challenges of protecting the unique Ntchisi Forest Reserve, she founded Future Forest Malawi. The mission of Future Forest Malawi is to sustainably restore and protect the threatened ecosystems of Ntchisi Forest Reserve, together with the local communities.

Ntchisi Forest Reserve is situated in central Malawi and contains one of the last remaining patches of afromontane rainforest in southern Africa. The vegetation consists of ferns, lianas, century-old moss covered trees and beautiful orchids. This thick forest vegetation holds the water at Ntchisi mountain. On the lower slopes the typical Brachystegia woodland with grassy undergrowth dominates. The Reserve gives habitat to, amongst others, three species of monkeys, several types of duikers, bushpig and bushbuck, an enormous number of bird species, butterflies as well as many reptiles and amphibians.

The goal of Future Forest Malawi is to restore and conserve the different ecosystems in Ntchisi Forest Reserve. The main focus is on the vulnerable patch of afromontane evergreen rainforest surrounding the summit of the mountain, the inner part of the Reserve.

Together with the local communities, we work on protection of the Reserve. This project generates a new type of income for the people living in the villages surrounding the forest, for example by taking part in patrols, and strives to make them less dependent on the forest. By working together via nature restoration, protection and education projects we aim to raise awareness about the long-term value of the forest. And consequently, that forest conservation will be essential to guarantee supply of water, harvest of fruits and mushrooms and supply of dead wood, also for future generations.

You can help Maaike! Are you looking for a meaningfull internship, thesis or volunteer opportunity? Send Maaike an email. Do you just want more information or support Future Forest Malawi financially, check out the PIF world website.


Centre for Sustainability – Philippines

logocsThe Centre for Sustainability is a non-profit organization working on sustainable development in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. During my Master Biology I took a break for three months to volunteer for this organisation (than called South Sea Exclusive). They do amazing work in nature conservation, education and sustainable livelihood on Palawan. You can follow their work (including many cool videos) on the Facebook page. For more information, check out their website or contact the Centre for Sustainability via email.

Our work comes from communities for communities to communities, incorporating local knowledge and practices in project development to ensure continuing relevance and long-term sustainability for many years to come.


Wildlife Rehabilitation


During my highschool years and the first years of my Bachelor study, I regularly helped out at a local bird recovery center: Vogel Revalidatie Centrum Zundert (VRC). This is an amazing organisation, which is run almost entirely by volunteers. They are specialised in the protection and rehabilitation of wild birds, especially bird of prey, which commonly get hit by cars or poisoned. The VRC has grown and develloped substantially in the recent years and is of national (Dutch) importance for saving native wildlife. Not only birds, but also deer, squirrels, foxes and many other animals benefit from their care. Next to caring for wildlife, the organisation also plays a pivotal role in local nature education and communication. You can support them and follow their adventures on Twitter (in Dutch).