Rewilding Europe Circle

Claude Martin

In my home country of Switzerland, we have witnessed the return of a number of wildlife species over the past decades: the beaver, red deer, ibex, lynx, wolf, brown bear and bearded vulture were either successfully reintroduced or returned on their own accord. Less than a hundred years ago all these species were extinct here. It looks like wild species and spaces today stand a chance to expand rather than shrink. Rewilding Europe is grasping this tremendous opportunity for the benefit of man and nature on our continent.


Claude Martin has been the Director General of WWF International from 1993 to 2005. He pioneered new approaches in international conservation, such as WWF’s target-driven programmes, and many partnerships such as the WWF-World Bank Alliance on forest conservation, and the Amazon Region Protected Areas Plan (ARPA) between the Brazilian Government, the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and WWF. He also initiated conservation partnerships with large corporations such as Lafarge and Nokia. From 1995-2006 Claude Martin has been a member of the China Council on International Cooperation, Environment and Development (CCICED) – a high level advisory body to the Chinese Government. Before joining WWF International, he was Director and Chief Executive of WWF-Switzerland from 1980 to 1990. From 1975 to 1978 he served as Director of several tropical forest national parks in Ghana. His conservation career started in the early 1970s, when he lived in Central India, studying the ecology of a threatened deer species – the barasingha.

Currently Claude Martin is the Chancellor of the International University in Geneva (IUG) – a business school. He is also the Chairman of the Sustainability Advisory Committee of Precious Woods, a tropical forestry company leading in FSC certified timber production, and serves as a member of several advisory boards of academic institutions. In 2003 he was awarded the “Commander of the Golden Arc” by the late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, and “Officier de l’Ordre National de Madagascar” by the President of Madagascar. He is the author of a large number of publications on conservation issues, including the recent Report to the Club of Rome: “On the Edge – The State and Fate of the World’s Tropical Rainforests” (Greystone Books Ltd., 343 pp).

A Swiss, Claude Martin was born in Zurich. He holds a MSc. in biology from the University of Zurich where he graduated with a PhD thesis in ecology in 1975.