Wiet de Bruijn (51), residing in Huizen (The Netherlands), is an entrepreneurial investor with, amongst others, active interests in wildlife conservation and agriculture. Wiet developed a love for nature through experiencing its beauty and splendour first hand while fishing and hunting as a young man with his father.
At the age of 21, Wiet soon realised that he had an acute understanding of business and started to initiate and develop various businesses. In the last 15 years Wiet has acted as an active shareholder and/or board member in a number of for-profit companies and for a number of years he invests time and money in non-profit initiatives as well.
In 2010 Wiet got involved in the Marakele Contractual National Park conservation initiative in South-Africa. This Park, which covers an area of more than 65.000 hectares, is located in the breath-taking Waterberg-area, situated in the northern part of the Limpopo province. This project has many similarities to Rewilding Europe, considering the challenges both initiatives face. The Marakele Park management seeks long-term sustainable financial income to reinvest in the park by developing tourism and breeding indigenous animals.
Simultaneously Wiet also plays a key role in a large agricultural farm in Ukraine. Through this project he is able to combine business and teaching people the philosophy with regards to mutual respect between man and nature.
All this led him to the Rewilding Europe initiative, where he will support Rewilding Europe with his experience and network in the Dutch business community to develop the initiative.
As the chairman of the Supervisory Board, Wiet expects to be a powerful asset to the Rewilding Europe project, not only as an entrepreneur/businessman, but also with his love for conservation.
Odile Rodríguez de la Fuente is the vice-president, founder and general director of Fundación Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente in Spain which was founded in 2004. She went to high school in Spain, England and Switzerland, a worldwide association of schools called RoundSquare.
Odile holds a BS in Biological Sciences (1994) and a BA in Cinema Production (1995) from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She started her career in 1996 at National Geographic Television in Washington DC as an intern, associate producer and producer. Among others, she worked on a film about rain forests in Mexico and a major, worldwide communication campaign on conservation, in collaboration with IUCN.
In 2004, she was the Director of Scientific Film Awards of Ronda, the first initiative of its kind in Spain. In 2005 she worked as a producer at RTVE, doing a production of a two-hour documentary of the life and work of her father Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente. In 2006, she became a member of the board of WWF Spain.
Currently, Odile’s main work is for the Fundación Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, an important NGO in Spain, named after her father who was a very famous Spanish nature filmmaker. Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente produced some very famous films and books. Unfortunately he died in a plane crash in Alaska when Odile was only 7 years young. Odile has followed the footsteps of her father and dedicates her life to protect and to communicate about nature and its wonders.
About her father, Odile says: “I always wanted to follow on my father´s footsteps even before he left us but the impact of his sudden death probably influenced me even more to dedicate my life to the defense and communication of nature and its wonders. My father supposed a huge influence in Spanish conscience about conservation. He was responsible for positioning Spain as one of the pioneering countries in Europe to first have laws protecting predatory birds and wolves. If we still have wolves in Spain it is because of my father´s work both on a political level but mainly as the most popular communicator in Spain during the 60´s and 70´s. His television series “El Hombre y la Tierra” was first on ranking for the eight years they were aired in Spain, surpassing any other international documentaries (like BBC or National Geographic) in both technological and narrative style. They were seen by millions of people worldwide including countries like Russia and Japan and showed Spanish fauna and flora to Europe and the world.
On the editorial end his best known work was the world wide encyclopedia “Fauna”. It was translated into 16 languages and sold more than 40 million volumes worldwide.’’
As a conservationist, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente was the co-founder and vice-president of WWF Spain and responsible for the preservation of many of the most important wild spots in Spain that are now National and Natural parks. He is still a major reference in Spain and many Spanish speaking countries and his style and passion still motivate and are an inspiration to thousands.
For Rewilding Europe, Odile Rodríguez de la Fuente will have a particular role in communication and networking, representing the initiative towards certain external audiences, especially in the Mediterranean parts of Europe. She will also help facilitating to reach certain target groups, such as major land owners/holders in the rewilding areas, national top media, and early adopters within the key government structures in Spain and Portugal.
Lena M Lindén is founder and former CEO (1988–2015) for the private non-profit foundation Nordens Ark on the west coast of Sweden, where it owns Åby manor, covering 400 hectares. Through its activities, Nordens Ark Foundation seeks to promote biological diversity principally by:
- Contributing to the conservation of endangered species by controlled breeding, and supporting wild animal population in their natural habitats through various support measures;
- Conducting research and studies of animals at the park, contributing to an increased understanding of animals and promoting animal survival in the wild;
- Acting as an educational resource at all levels from pre-school to colleges and universities;
- Being accessible to the public, thereby increasing public interest in and knowledge of conservation work.
Nordens Ark opened in 1989 and has since that reintroduced hundreds of birds, beetles, fish and mammals in Sweden and Europe and is involved in projects for Amur tigers in Russia Far East and snowleopards in Mongolia.
Lena M Lindén has Bachelor’s degree in zoology, geology, ethnography and physical geography. The degree in zoology in based on a study entitled Effects of Acidification on Salmon Trout in a stream on the West Coast of Sweden. Lena is also Honorary Doctor of the Faculty of Science at the University of Gothenburg.
On a national level Lena is an Academy fellow and Council member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry. Lena is also Council member of the Swedish Tourist Association.
Additional national seats:
- Advisory Board for Swedish Environmental Protection Agency;
- Special Advisor for Rewilding Lapland;
- Council member of Nääs castle – an old estate with 1100 hectares.
Lena also has a number of international seats such as:
- Member of CBSG steering committee, a sub-committee to SSC/IUCN;
- Member of Advisory Board of International Zoo Yearbook, Zoological Society of London;
- GCN, Global Conservation Network, Member of Board of Director.
Lena has a special interest in Rewilding Europe because it provides a great opportunity to link her conservation ambitions for wildlife by different reintroduction programmes, where some of them are run by the zoo community. She also finds it valuable to be able to be a link between academic associations and different programs for re-establishing populations of wildlife in Europe.
Paul Jepson (57) is a life-long birder and conservationist. He lives in Oxford where he directs Oxford University’s MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management and is a senior research fellow at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.
After completing a Zoology degree in Manchester, Paul pursued his passion for bird-watching through travels and bird-tour leading in Asia and as a founding committee member of the Oriental Bird Club. At the same time he became active in urban conservation, working in local government, first Manchester and then in Shrewsbury (UK), to restore tip and abandoned lands to countryside as nature and recreational assets. In 1991 he moved to Indonesia to set up a new BirdLife Indonesia Programme which he directed until 1998 working on the bird trade, the establishment of new protected areas and training of young Indonesian conservationists.
In 1998 Paul moved back to the UK and to Oxford to conduct doctoral research on the efficacy of biodiversity policy in Indonesia. He funded this by consulting for the World Bank and other international organisations. When children came along he transferred in to academic full time directing MSc programmes in Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment.
He cofounded the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management in 2001 and his directed it since 2013. He took a group of students on a study tour of Dutch rewilding in 2005 and has been teaching, researching and enthusing about rewilding since. Paul is an inter-disciplinary conservation scientists and an expert in conservation governance – who or what steers conservation outcomes. As an educator of new generation conservation professionals his research is future orientated. Alongside rewilding he is currently thinking through the implications of new technological forces for conservation, how institutions can adapt to advances in conservation science, and new strategies for conservation finance. Find out more about his work in his personal page and blog.
For Rewilding Europe, Paul will have a particular role in policy work of the organisation, in making connections between research advances in rewilding and related areas and the applied work of Rewilding Europe. He will also help facilitate thinking on educational aspects and how Rewilding Europe can interact with technological forces that are shaping the future.