Senior management team
Managing Director, Executive Board Member
Frans Schepers is Managing Director and one of the founders of Rewilding Europe. He graduated in forestry, land – and water management in 1985 after which he took various positions in nature conservation, starting in Dutch government, working on a large river restoration project (Border Meuse), reshaping 50 km of river landscape. From 2000-2014, he worked at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in The Netherlands, responsible for international programmes, with a focus on Southern Africa, Europe and Eurasia.
During his professional career, which now spans over 30 years, he specialised in developing conservation strategies, freshwater and species conservation, ecological networks, protected areas and rewilding approaches. His special interest is in rewilding landscapes, where nature can bounce back through ecological processes, wildlife comes back and where people can enjoy and benefit.
As the Managing Director of Rewilding Europe since 2011, he is leading a team of now 15 people based in eight different European countries. Currently, eight large rewilding initiatives are operational in seven countries who have the potential to become rewilding icons for Europe, where wild nature with abundant wildlife provides new socio- economic opportunities. Under his leadership, Rewilding Europe has initiated four new, innovative initiatives: Rewilding Europe Capital (Europe’s first conservation enterprise loan facility), European Wildlife Bank (a lending facility for large herbivores), European Safari Company (a business to support nature-based tourism) and the European Rewilding Network (with now 50 members in 25 different countries).
Frans Schepers is a keen birdwatcher and has travelled to numerous countries around the world, including bird expeditions to the Mediterranean, Middle East and West Africa. Having travelled in Africa a lot, he is still very connected, in particular to Zambia, a country he loves and where he is a Trustee of the Zambian Carnivore Programme.
Frans shares some of his encounters with nature and the vision of Rewilding Europe in this episode of My Home Planet podcast:
Wouter Helmer (1960) Founder and Managing Director (until 2015) of ARK Nature, one of the key rewilding partners of Rewilding Europe, in which he implemented hundreds of rewilding initiatives since 1989 throughout the Netherlands and later on in other parts of Europe. He is the co-writer of several change-making visions like ‘Living Rivers’ and ‘Growing with the Sea’. He is also the co-inventor of new concepts for nature conservation and management like natural grazing, cyclic rejuvenation of floodplains, temporary nature in fallow areas, an international herd fund, landscape auctions and nature compensation in advance. Setting up campaigns about climate adaptation in natural buffer zones and ‘Missing Lynx’ about missing connections in nature conservation. He has a lot of experiences in bringing big visions into practice, as was the case in areas like the Border Meuse, the Gelderse Poort, several coastal areas in the Netherlands and projects in Latvia (‘Letlands’) and Bulgaria (‘New Thracian Gold’). His involvement in European nature conservation goes back to a study on ecosystems in Thracia, which ended up in a proposal for the Council of Europe to protect a biogenetic reserve in the northern part of Greece.
Wouter Helmer is the winner of several prizes on nature conservation in the Netherlands and he is Honorary Lector at the Forestry and Nature Management Programme at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, part of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Wouter Helmer is one of the four founding members of Rewilding Europe.
Finance and Operations Director, Executive Board Member
Ilko Bosman (1978) became part of Rewilding Europe in 2013. Ilko Bosman studied at the Faculty of Management Sciences (Radboud University Nijmegen) and at the Institute for Auditing, Accountancy and Controlling (Erasmus University Rotterdam). He holds a Masters degree in business information management and a postgraduate degree in IT-auditing. His professional career started in university with starting up his own company. After graduating, he had different functions in finance and operations in banking and investment management, with ABN AMRO bank and Fortis Investments. After 8 years in banking, he pursued his love for building organizations and became partner in a fast-growing start-up company, one of the pioneer companies in 3D printing. Here, he was responsible for Finance and Operations. This brought him a wide business experience that will be of use in the diverse and ever-changing environment of the Rewilding Europe initiative.
Next to enjoying nature on a bicycle or on foot, Ilko Bosman has a passion for building teams and organizations and finding new ways to reach objectives and turn problems into opportunities. Being an entrepreneur in a rapidly growing company has allowed him to develop himself in a wide array of competences. Within the scope of Rewilding Europe, he is responsible to further build the institutional, financial and legal aspects of Rewilding Europe, developing businesses and investments, support fundraising, HR and ICT and help building a solid organization, bringing together non-for profit and for-profit components in the initiative.
Originally from Catalonia, Deli Saavedra (1968) became part of Rewilding Europe in 2012. He studied Biology and holds a PhD which focused in the Eurasian Otter. He has worked as a consultant in nature conservation during the last twenty years, coordinating the reintroduction of endangered species (black vulture, Eurasian otter) and the planning and management of protected areas. He has collaborated and researched on protected areas planning (Costa Rica, Hungary), private conservation (Venezuela, Australia) and endangered species (Poland, Morocco, Ethiopia), and has been consultant at the Territory and Landscape Foundation (Catalonia) and the Observatory for Biodiversity and Ecological Processes in Rural Areas (Spanish Government). He has been director of SolucioNat (ltd.), dedicated to bird control and management activities in natural areas.
He has written a book about the reintroduction of the Otter in Catalonia and another one about birds and mammals of northern Ethiopia. He is the president of Sol Solidari (foundation for environmental cooperation in Africa) and member of the Reintroductions Specialist Group of IUCN.
Originally from Thessaloniki, Greece, Alexandros Karamanlidis (1972) studied Biology and Physical Education (in Germany, U.K. and Greece) and holds a PhD in the conservation genetics and behaviour of the brown bear. He has worked as a wildlife conservationist during the last 15 years, with a particular focus on endangered carnivores, both terrestrial and marine. He has been carrying out research and conservation projects on Mediterranean monk seals, brown bears and wolves in Europe (i.e. Albania, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia) and the USA (Hawaii) and has been participating in the planning and management of protected areas. He has a special interest in developing and applying innovative methodologies for studying endangered species and authored numerous publications. Alexandros is currently a member of the IUCN Pinniped, Otter, and Brown bear Specialist Groups. He also has a special interest and experience in coastal and marine conservation.
Alexandros will work closely with Deli Saavedra, his direct colleague Regional Manager based in Catalunya, Spain, in supporting the rewilding area teams on a daily basis.