Rewilding area team leaders

Mariana Druga
Team leader Southern Carpathians

Having studied biology at West University of Timisoara in Romania, and with a PhD in ornithology, Mariana has significant experience in conservation and national/European environmental policy and legislation.

She worked on conservation, policy and casework issues with BirdLife International for around eight years, playing a key role in the sustainable development of renewable energy in the Dobruja region of Romania, working together with authorities, stakeholders and scientists in this field. She also has extensive experience in management plan development for protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites.

Mariana has a tremendous respect for natural and cultural values, both of her own country and on an international scale.

“Nature is my home,” she says.  “I want to know everything there is to know about nature in a scientific way, especially birds and mammals like the European bison, and American and European mink. I love a good challenge, so I seem to have an addiction to difficult or lost causes when it comes to conservation. Species reintroductions are a good example!”

I have been working at WWF Romania as a project manager of the LIFE Bison project (“Urgent actions for the recovery of European Bison populations in Romania”) since November 2017. Since February 2018 I have also been working as a regional coordinator for the Southwestern Carpathians Priority Landscape Area.

Davor Krmpotić
Davor Krmpotić
Team leader Velebit

Davor (born 1975) is an engineer in forestry, who lives and works in Senj, a town located near Velebit Nature Park. He graduated from the Department of Forest Protection and Hunting, Faculty of Forestry, University of Zagreb. He is also a GIS specialist. After finishing his study, he has been employed in the Croatian Forests Ltd., where he still works on implementation of GIS solutions and GPS technology in forestry, drawing forest management plans and systematic collection of data and forest information. These data are necessary to evaluate the value and possible uses of timber as an important part of the broader information required to preserve forest ecosystems.

Davor also works closely with the Department of Ecology on the protection against forest fires, drying out of submediterranean forests and phenological research. He is also actively engaged in the management in local hunting grounds. In 2011, he joined the rewilding team for Velebit through the WWF office in Zagreb as a rewilding officer. In that position, he was responsible for the identification and coordination of all rewilding and business opportunities in the Velebit rewilding area. Through his extensive networks in the Velebit Nature Park, he is the contactperson for all local stakeholders and rewilding partners.

Since July 2013, Davor is working as the rewilding area coordinator, contracted directly through the central Rewilding Europe team. He is now responsible for coordinating all rewilding work in the area. Davor is very strongly connected with Velebit Nature Park, the forest, the mountains, the spectacular coast, its wildlife and people.

Pedro Prata
Pedro Prata
Team leader Western Iberia

Pedro Prata was born in 1982 and grew up in a family farm in the central mountains of Portugal. Since childhood, he has been wandering through the grassland plateaus, adventuring into the thick forests or simply sunbathing in the deep canions of the rivers. It made him realise a complex web of relations that wild nature so fruitfully shows in its many different aspects. He is passionate for nature in all its extent and lover of outdoor sports. Pursuing this curiosity led him to an MSC in biology in the University of Lisbon, where he mostly researched the behaviour of plant and fungi interaction.

Starting an international career in 2005, he went to study evolution with a MSC on ecology and evolution in the Universiteit van Amesterdam which led his research to coral reef recovery after storm damage at curaçao in the caribbean. Until 2010, he lived and was involved in different projects in Brasil and USA and finally came back to Europe. Near his hometown was an organisation called ATN that represented the Rewilding initiative with an innovative project Faia Brava. Convinced that was a plausible strategy to deal with high levels of land abandonment that raged for decades the inland of the country, he is now taking responsibility to develop this project in wider area, to cover the whole Coa river basin that streches as a natural wildlife corridor that must be carefully tackled to bloom in diversity, taking the Rewilding Strategy as model to achieve such goals.  

Stoycho Stoychev
Stoycho Stoychev
Team leader Rhodope Mountains

Stoycho Stoychev, Conservation Director of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds/Bird Life Bulgaria lives and works in the Rewiding Rhodopes area from the town of Haskovo. He is well known conservation leader with an excellent track record. His successful work in increasing the population of the imperial eagle in the adjacent Strandzha-Sakar Mountains brought him the Whitley Conservation Award for 2014.

Stoycho has in depth knowledge of national and international conservation, including policy and legislation, in particular from the work with BirdLife International, and has excellent contact with stakeholders on national, regional and local level in the Rhodope Mountains. 

Suleika Suntken
Project Coordinator Oder Delta

Since 2012 Suleika works as a project manager in the „Nature conservation and biodiversity” department of the environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) – Environmental Action Germany, in various fields such as ecosystem services, nature based economy and wilderness. She majored in ecological economics at the University of Edinburgh.  Suleika played a substantial role in preparing and coordinating the nomination of Oder Delta rewilding area as well as building up a strong network of partners within the region from the very beginning and has since then been involved in the initiative. Since November 2016, she works as the coordinator of Oder Delta local team. 

Ulrich Stöcker
Ulrich Stöcker
Team leader Oder Delta (Germany)

Since 2009 Ulrich Stocker is the head of „Nature conservation and biodiversity” department of the environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) – Environmental Action Germany. He studied law in Cologne, Saarbrücken and Lausanne, with a specialisation in environmental law. After working for the Federal Environmental Agency and the UN Environment Programme UNEP in Nairobi, and lecturing environmental law at the Technical University of Berlin, he has been working for 18 years for the Ministry of Environment Brandenburg (1991 – 2009), where he developed the nature protection legislation for Brandenburg and the law for the National Park Lower Oder Valley. Since then he has dealt with wilderness and rewilding issues, among others responsible for the state designation of the “wilderness” area in Jüterbog, Lieberose and Tangersdorf, as coordinator of the Regional Working Group on Nature Conservation for the National Heritage and now representative of DUH in the strategy group conservation areas of German environmental organizations. With more than 25 years of experience in the field of nature conservation, he has a broad network and a major environmental policy expertise. Within DUH he is a member of the Project Accompanying Working Group of “Natural Capital Germany”, was the one to lead a project helping the Botswana Government to successfully apply for the Okavango Delta as the 1.000th World Heritage Area. He also took part in the last World Wilderness Congresses in Mérida in 2009 and 2013 in Salamanca. 

Håkan Landström
Håkan Landström
Managing Director and Team leader Lapland

Håkan (born 1967) has lived and worked in Norrbotten County in the northern part of Swedish Lapland his whole life. His roots are in Akkajaur, a small village along Varjisån – one of the most untouched tributaries to the Pite River.

Håkan possess an extensive experience in rural development, especially linked to tourism rooted in local nature and culture. During 2003–2005 he worked for the Laponia World Heritage Site and assisted with the development of national and international marketing, branding, networking, enterprise and training of local guides. Between 2005 and 2016 he worked for the Rural Economy and Agricultural Society of Sweden and was involved in various international projects. Here he gained interesting experiences in promoting ecotourism and sustainable use of natural resources such as forests, waters and wildlife. During 1996–2004, Håkan together with a friend developed and managed NordGuide, one of the region’s most successful adventure tour operators specialising on trekking, canoeing and other outdoor sports. NordGuide was awarded as the best Swedish Tourism Business in 2000.

Håkan has a passion for wildlife and untamed nature, and spends as much of his free time as possible outdoor. He lives in the regional capital of the Norrbotten County – Luleå – but for Rewilding Lapland he will be working from Jokkmokk at the heart of Lapland and the Swedish Sami community.

With his wide experience, passion and devotion to nature he joined Rewilding Lapland in June 2016 and is responsible for the leadership, development and coordination of the initiative – related to management of wildlife, reindeer, fishing and hunting, forestry and forest protection, river restoration, communications, marketing, enterprise and nature based tourism in one of the most untamed regions of Europe.

Serban Ion
Team leader Danube Delta (Romania)

Serban Ion was born in 1975 in Bucharest, Romania. He visited the village of Sfantu Gheorghe in the Danube Delta for the first time in 1989.  As he has continued to explore the delta, so his passion for the area has also grown.

Serban graduated from the Romanian – American University of Bucharest with a degree in Internal and International Economy and Tourism. The subject of his Bachelor’s Degree thesis was rural tourism in the Danube Delta, with a focus on Sfantu Gheorghe and its environs. Over the past 10 years he has been employed in a consultancy role for various projects and associations in the area.

Serban has an in depth knowledge of national and local conservation in Romania, including policy, legislation and local stakeholder issues. He is now working to build up a strong network of partners within the Danube Delta region, integrating rewilding principles with the habits and traditions of the local people. He has been Team Leader of the Danube Delta rewilding team since April 2017.

Mykhailo Nesterenko
Team leader Danube Delta (Ukraine)

Mykhailo Nesterenko was born in 1974 in Ukraine. He graduated from the General Biology Faculty in Odessa, Ukraine and has more than 15 years of experience in nature conservation, sustainable development and rural development projects with WWF and as a consultant for, SABMiller, GIZ.

Mykhailo started his career as a zoologist mostly working on bird conservation. He has participated in various expeditions in both Ukraine and abroad. His consultancy work focused on the development of regional strategies and plans for the Danube Delta region of Ukraine, Romania, and Trans-boundary Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Danube Delta region. He is most proud of his work on a climate change adaptation strategy for a village in the Danube Delta and shares Rewilding Europe’s philosophy of doing locally but thinking globally. In the most recent years, Mykhailo focused was on large herbivores reintroduction projects and natural grazing projects in Ukraine.

Over many years of working in Ukraine, he built strong links and relations with stakeholders and partners in the Danube Delta region and has in depth knowledge of national and local conservation in Ukraine. He will focus on building up rewilding projects for restoration of wetlands and wildlife in partnership with local communities and businesses. He has been Team Leader of the Danube Delta Ukrainian rewilding team since April 2017.