Exchange Officer European Rewilding Network
Yvonne spent her childhood between animals on her family’s farm. During her BSc Animal Husbandry she fulfilled an internship in Tanzania. Already equipped with a sound interest in nature conservation, the experience fuelled this even more. She studied MSc Ecology in Amsterdam and after analysing the molecular population genetics of Clouded Leopards, a research project on European bison and Konik horses in the Dutch Bison pilot gave her a fine example of bringing back wildlife species to a natural environment. After graduating she became member of the project and currently, she coordinates it. Yvonne is very excited to be involved in the European Rewilding Network, as she fully believes that sharing experiences enables each other to move forwards.
Enterprise Development Manager
Originally from South Africa and currently based in London, Matthew McLuckie is part of the Conservation Capital team working as the business and finance partners of the Rewilding Europe initiative. Conservation Capital focuses exclusively on linking private sector business and investment finance with global biodiversity conservation and in the last 5 years has raised and structured over 200 million Euros of private investment finance for conservation-based businesses across a diverse range of industry sectors. Matthew is Enterprise Development Officer for Rewilding Europe and is tasked with identifying and supporting – some through direct financing – relevant conservation enterprises that promote the goals of the initiative. This work includes investment management of Rewilding Europe Capital, a ‘pioneer’ debt fund operated within Rewilding Europe. Previously, Matthew completed his MA Hons in Geography from The University of Edinburgh before moving into a career in finance, initially working in venture capital for EFG Securities and subsequently for Credit Suisse in private client portfolio management.
Wildlife Tourism Manager
At an early age, Simon (1980) developed a love & passion for Africa and its wildlife, where he began his safari experience in the National Parks of South Africa. Led by his Grandfather – a fanatical birder and naturalist, Simon realised his true passion in life. After completing a diploma in Game Ranging and Lodge Management, Simon spent time in the wildlife filming industry before transitioning to ecotourism. Simon spent five years at Londolozi Game Reserve and finished as a senior guide & mentor. Through these five years, Simon developed a strong relationship with expert tracker Elmon Mhlongo and together they spent many hours on foot tracking Africa’s elusive predators. After travel experience through Europe & Mexico, Simon spent time guiding and training in countries including Rwanda, Botswana and South Africa. Over the last 4 years, Simon has been working at Wilderness Safaris, where his responsibilities included specialist Guided Journeys, business development & marketing / sales across the globe. This experience has allowed Simon to gain significant understanding of the International travel Industry, operational restructuring & financial responsibilities which are key to eco-tourism success. Simon’s Wildlife highlights over the years include Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda, bearing witness to the Migration in the Mara, tracking & finding his first Leopard on foot and experiencing the terrifying beauty of the Northern Skeleton Coast in Namibia. Simon joins the Rewilding Europe Enterprise team as the Wildlife Tourism Manager and will be providing support to a wide range of existing and new wildlife tourism businesses in our rewilding areas, helping them to develop market-ready products and to reach niche national and international markets. His skills from outside Europe will bring a fresh and valuable perspective, helping to create a sustainable conservation tourism model in our rewilding areas over time.
Finance and Operations Manager
Violeta grew up in a small village somewhere between the beautiful green hills of Maramures, Romania. Having been surrounded by overwhelming nature is the origin of her love for authentic nature. She really experienced and saw how people can be part of this nature without disturbing it too much. Furthermore she realized that without nature mankind eventually would be lost and protecting this nature is one of the biggest and most important challenges we are facing today. Violeta works as a Financial Officer to keep a clear view on the available financial resources to guarantee maximum efficiency in using them for all projects Rewilding Europe is involved in.
LIFE Project Manager
Annette Mertens (1968) is of German origin but grew up in Italy, where she graduated in Zoology at the University “La Sapienza” in Rome. Her passion for wolves and bears has then taken her to Romania, where she has worked in the Carpathian Large Carnivore Project. She started in 1995 with a year of radio-telemetry work on wolves, and then continued from 1998 to 2002, coordinating the bear research and management component of the project and focusing on the analysis and management of carnivore-livestock raising conflicts.
Back in Italy in 2002 she wrote her first LIFE Project in cooperation with her colleague Valeria Salvatori. The project was accepted for funding by the European Commission and she has successfully coordinated it until its end. After this Annette has written several other LIFE proposals, both on her own initiative and on request of other parties, and coordinated the projects upon acceptance. For four years she has also worked as an expert in the LIFE Nature and Biodiversity proposal selection process.
She is now working as an independent free-lance for different National Parks in Italy, public authorities and foundations, and is still writing projects and coordinating them when selected for funding.
Annette has started working with Rewilding Europe in March 2014, when she was contracted to assist in the production of three LIFE proposals, which have all been submitted in October 2014. Annette has become part of the Rewilding Europe team as Advisor Fundraising, focusing on public funding in particular EU related.
LIFE Project Officer
Dana, originally from Prague, Czech Republic, lives in the Netherlands for more than 20 years. She started her career in the area of science policies, after completing her MSc degree in biology, Radboud University Nijmegen, with research specialisms in ethology, animal ecology and behavioral physiology. She did additional courses on general management, policy and consultancy, animal science, inventories of flora and fauna, bird and nature guiding and communication.
For 15 years, Dana worked for the Dutch animal welfare charity AAP (focusing on the rescue and rehabilitation of animals, but also on public policy). There she fulfilled various positions: as a manager, policy and public affairs advisor and external representative. She contributed significantly to the professionalisation of the organisation. For AAP Dana also set up and managed a large EU youth volunteer programme, which introduced her into opportunities of the EU funding.
Dana has a broad insight and experience in the green NGO sector at an international level, and is happy to have joined Rewilding Europe, in early 2016. She can employ her love and passion for nature, her skills and experience to support Rewilding Europe in different fields in an international context. As a member of Rewilding Europe Central Team Dana is supporting the implementation and management of Rewilding Europe’s LIFE-projects.
Communications Manager & Coordinator of the European Rewilding Network
Mei, originating from Croatia, is a nature lover and a passionate diver. She graduated from the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb. After finishing her studies she pursued a consulting carrier working on communications and marketing initiatives for several companies in Croatia. Through the years she has been actively involved in many environmental projects in the southeast region, including the marine part of the Natura 2000 Network in Croatia and also LIFE funded projects, which increased her passion for nature conservation and efforts to make a difference in this field. In 2014 Mei joined the Velebit rewilding team as a part-time Communication Officer and in mid-2015 she also joined the central team as a Communications Manager.
Driven by her love for nature, traveling and communication she is working on promoting the new concept of rewilding to various audiences. She is co-responsible for the implementation of Rewilding Europe’s communication strategy and objectives at the central level, together with Kristjan Jung. She has a support role to the teams in the rewilding areas and, in close cooperation with the communications officers in each of those teams, ensures effective communication about efforts and results in the rewilding areas.
Coming from Estonia, one of the least populated countries in Europe, Kristjan has been amongst nature since he was a kid. Many of the species Rewilding Europe is trying to re-introduce in Southern Europe, are taken for granted in Estonia. A journalist by profession, Kristjan has spent most of his career trying to bring nature closer to people, either through print or electronic media. Before joining Rewilding Europe, he worked as a journalist for Estonian Public Broadcasting’s program “Osoon”, a weekly TV magazine on nature and conservation. Kristjan takes care of Rewilding Europe’s internal and external communication.
Writer and Editor
Born in London, Daniel is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer, with an additional background in PR and communications. His work has featured in numerous publications, including National Geographic Traveller, Geographical, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Independent, Discovery Channel magazine, CNN, BBC and Esquire. Having travelled and lived in numerous locations around the world, he is passionate about global conservation and socio-economic issues, and has had numerous articles published on rewilding. Daniel joins the Rewilding Europe team in 2017 as a Writer and Editor.
GIS Data Manager
Growing up in Wageningen, The Netherlands, there was always plenty of nature and outdoor activities around. But it was only during his post school travels to Australia and New Zealand that Jelle became overwhelmed by both nature’s beauty as well as its problematic future and ecological disasters, which drove him to seek a professional future in this direction.
During his study of Spatial Ecology at the University of Amsterdam he discovered the power of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in an early stage. The fascination for maps combined with a passion for herpetofauna brought him in contact with Natural Resource Management at ITC, Enschede. Here he explored the world of species distribution modelling using a combination of satellite imagery and ground data of the sand lizards on the Wadden islands and Erhard’s wall lizard at Crete, Greece. At the end of his study Jelle returned to Wageningen University for his Msc. thesis on grazing ecology of large herbivores in South Africa.
Shortly after volunteering for Rewilding Europe for 3 months where he did a short case study on a habitat model for brown bears in the Croatian Velebit Mountains, he joined the Central Team as the GIS Data Manager.