Short Resumes of the board


Prof. Dr P.A. (Pieter) Zuidema
Pieter Zuidema is already since 2002 involved in the Prince Bernhard Chair. He is full professor in ecology of tropical forests at Wageningen University. He holds MSc and PhD degrees in Biology from Utrecht University, specializing in tropical forest ecology and management.
He studies the ecological responses of tropical forests to three pervasive disturbances: climate change, exploitation and landscape alterations. Understanding these responses is essential to predict effects of future changes and design effective management and policies. His research on climate change effects on tropical forests provides insights into climatic drivers of tropical tree growth. He combines empirical studies, from physiological and tree-ring studies, with tree growth and vegetation models. Combined, these approaches provide better estimates of climate change effects on tropical forests. Within the second these, sustainable management of tropical forests, Pieter Zuidema aims to identify opportunities to combine productivity and economic valuation with conservation of biodiversity and carbon in managed tropical forests. He helps delivering the scientific basis for sustainable forest management by developing forensic timber tracing techniques and assessing climate impacts of timber exploitation. His research on shifts in tropical landscapes focuses at the implications of important alterations of tropical forest landscapes. Studies on forest fragmentation and tree species viability will help improving risk assessments of species extinction and biodiversity loss in altered tropical landscapes.

A large share of his research has societal relevance. One of his main motivations for research and teaching is to contribute to the much needed scientific basis and professional capacity to realize improved management and conservation of tropical forests. Pieter Zuidema maintains international network of colleagues in science, conservation and forest management. His research is often covered in national and international media, and he is often requested to comment on pressing conservation issues and policies related to tropical forests, deforestation and illegal timber trade.

René Boot

Prof. Dr R.G.A. (René) Boot
René is director of Tropenbos International, a Dutch foundation governed by an international board. The mission of the foundation is to improve governance and management of tropical forests through research, capacity building and promoting dialogue. The foundation funded by the Dutch government, EU and other donors works in Indonesia, Vietnam, Ghana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Suriname, Guyana and Bolivia.

He is Special Professor in Sustainable tropical forest management at Utrecht University, The Netherlands where he teaches research policy linkages to MSc and PhD students. He further supervises PhD students working on forest ecology and forest dependent livelihoods.

René Boot studied ecology and graduated (PhD) in 1990 at Utrecht University. After graduating he worked for fifteen years in forest research and development projects in the field in Guyana and Bolivia.

He is member of the editorial board of the Journal Tropical Ecology, member of the editorial board of the Journal Forests, Trees and Livelihoods, chair of the Academy for Ecosystem services (civil society organizations and Utrecht University) and member of the board of the Prince Bernhard Chair for International Nature Conservation


Prof. Dr G.A.(George) Kowalchuk
Prof. Kowalchuk is head of the Ecology and Biodiversity research group within the Department of Biology at Utrecht University. This group which focuses on the development, maintenance and functioning of biodiversity, as determined by ecological processes and interactions with atmosphere, water and soil.

Shortly after receiving his PhD from Yale University in 1993, he moved to The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) as a researcher in the Department of Microbial Ecology. He was named adjunct professor in Plant-Microbe Interactions at the Free University of Amsterdam within the Department of Ecological Science, which he held from 1995-2015, and moved to Utrecht University in 2013. His multifaceted research program is centered around environmental and rhizosphere microbiology in the context of global change, impacts on ecosystem functioning and integrated land management and restoration. He is an NWO Vici laureate via the project “Crossing the frontiers of microbial ecology” and has published extensively across a range of ecological fields. He is a founding editor-in-chief of The ISME Journal, launched in 2007 by The Nature Publishing Group, where he was co-editor-in-chief until 2018. He also serves as editor-in-chief of the Molecular Microbial Ecology Manual and sits on the editor boards of the journals Environmental Microbiology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, and The Journal of Genomic Standards.


Dr K.D.(Kirsten) Schuyt-Tresierra Unzaga
Kirsten is CEO of WWF Netherlands and a member of the WWF Network Executive Team. She has been with WWF for almost twenty years in various international global conservation positions, including forests, freshwater, wildlife, conservation & development and conservation policy. Key positions she held before becoming CEO was Chief Conservation Officer with WWF Netherlands, Director Global Policy and Science with WWF’s Forests and Climate Initiative and Resource Economist with the Global Forest Program of WWF International in Switzerland.

Outside WWF, Kirsten has held several board positions for many years, including the Supervisory Board and Audit Committee of PWN, an important Dutch drinking water company; the Supervisory Board of the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH); the Advisory Board of NIOZ, the Royal Dutch Institute for Sea Research; and FSC Netherlands.

Prior to WWF, Kirsten lived and worked in Kenya and Malawi for several years, where she conducted field research with local communities on the economic values of tropical wetlands and taught Economics at a local University College. Kirsten holds a PhD in Environmental Sciences with the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and a Master’s degree in International Economics from the University of Maastricht. Publications during these academic years focused on the economic values of nature.

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Prof. Dr G.A. (Annelies) Zoomers
Annelies (E.B.) Zoomers is professor of International Development Studies (IDS) at Utrecht University and the chair of the board of WOTRO Science for Global Development (NWO).

After finishing her PhD in 1988, she worked for the Netherlands Economic Institute (Rotterdam) and the Royal Tropical Institute (Amsterdam) on long- and short-term consulting assignments for various organizations (e.g. the World Bank, IFAD, ILO, EU, DGIS) in various countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Between 1995 and 2007 she was associate professor at the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (Amsterdam) and between 2005 and 2009, professor of International Migration at the Radboud University (Nijmegen). She is the founding chair of the Netherlands Land Academy LANDac (2009-2019) and Shared Value Foundation SVF (2017- to date).

She has published extensively on sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation in relation to climate change, the global land rush, and international migration. Current research focus: Natural resource conflicts/ food security and migration in relation to large scale investments in land/infrastructure and climate change - as well as the impact of EU-African migration deals. She is director of the European H2020 program Investing in 'Welcoming Spaces' in Europe:
revitalizing shrinking areas by hosting non-EU migrants in Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands (2020-2024).

Dr Tim Boekhout

Dr T.B. (Tim) Boekhout van Solinge
Tim is an Amsterdam-based independent criminologist and consultant. He holds a MA in human geography and a PhD in criminology.

He is a versatile international (scientific) expert in international drug control/trafficking and forest/wildlife crime, especially in tropical and equatorial rainforests.

Specialized in the geographical and criminological analysis of (international) illegal activities and trafficking routes in various countries and regions: drugs (cannabis, cocaine, heroin), prostitution and human trafficking, and since 2004 mainly eco-crime, forest/wildlife crime, natural resource exploitation and conflicts.

Tim is the author of various books and numerous articles and reports on reports on international drug trafficking, drug control, forest and wildlife crime, natural resource exploitation and (armed) conflicts, as well as on prostitution and human trafficking. Since 2004 he is leading criminological expert in forest crime, deforestation, natural resources, wildlife and (armed) conflicts.

He has various publications on his name about illegal logging, arms trafficking and armed conflicts in West and Central Africa (including a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Organized Crime, 2014). In 2016 he was (criminological) lead author of the Global Forest Expert Panel on Illegal Timber.

Specialised in (ethnographic) fieldwork and interviewing, Tim has over two decades of experience in research and fieldwork in Europe and elsewhere: Caribbean, Middle East, South America (esp. Brazilian Amazon), North and East Africa, and South East Asia.

Tim has over two decades experience with interviewing many types of respondents; from gangsters and forest tribes to diplomats, law enforcers, and EU policy makers. Since 1996 he has been regularly consulted, formally and informally, consulted as scientific expert in the field of drugs crime and forest crime (by Commission, Council, Parliament and EEAS).

Alex van Hooff

Drs. A.P.J.M. (Alex) van Hooff
Born and raised in Royal Burgers’ Zoo (in Arnhem, the Netherlands) Alex has been involved with animals and nature since childhood frequently. After his study economics in Rotterdam he worked in the banking world for some years. Since 1998 Alex works in the zoo and after the death of his father in 2004 he and his wife Bertine are in charge of Burgers’ Zoo.

Burgers’ Zoo is a family-run business founded in 1913 that attempts to focus on both continuity as change and renewal. Alex’ mission is to protect and to preserve (threatened) nature. Burgers’ Zoo shows animals in their natural environment in order to get people experience the amazing world of nature and consequently to inspire and to influence people’s conduct.

Burgers’ Zoo supports nature conservation in situ and tries to make a global contribution by means of the Lucie Burgers Foundation - the foundation that supports and encourages comparative behavioural research on animals - as well as through our nature conservation project of an area of 420 square kilometers in Belize and, finally, Future for Nature, the foundation that awards prizes annually to three young successful nature conservationists.


S.A.C. (Saskia) Cox-Steenbergh LLM
Saskia Cox worked as lawyer and legal counsel, specializing in labour law and civil service law. After the birth of her daughters the responsibility to leave a better earth for them and next generations sparked her motivation to shift her interest to serve
this public goal. She founded The Planet Prosperity Foundation with her husband and has since initiated and organized various projects around sustainability and climate change. One such initiative was the national screening of the climate documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. With her foundation she made the film accessible for free in theaters throughout the Netherlands (50.000 free tickets).
She organized a multi day international congres about the sustainability approach Cradle to Cradle in MECC Maastricht, bringing together the businesses and speakers that played key roles in the VPRO Backlight documentary ‘Waste equals Food’. After this the Foundation became a pivotal player in bringing together people interested in Cradle to Cradle and the circular economy, eventually helping to establish an independent certification institute in the USA. With the Foundation Saskia publishes the Dutch and English version of the book Revolution Justified (Revolutie met recht). This book was used as blueprint and inspiration for the
successful legal (climate) case of Urgenda Foundation against the Dutch state. Saskia has endeavored in humanitarian work giving free legal counsel to refugees for the non for profit organization Refugeework Netherlands.
She has been vegan for the climate and animal welfare since she became aware of the implications for both.


E.F.F. (Fleur) barones van Voorst tot Voorst-van Heek LLM
Involved in nature as part of the conservation and development of privately owned landproperties, Fleur is aware of the multi-functional character of landscapes, the balance between its Flora and Fauna and the importance of its economic sustainability. A healthy soil is of the utmost importance. To be improved by, preferably, natural ways. According to her idea the social-economic aspect has to provide the necessary means for nature conservation.

The ultimate goal for her is to obtain the highest level of biodiversity, to make the landscape more resilient, as well as preserving its social-economic function and to preserve or increase its natural beauty.

Fleur has been a member of the supervisory board of the landproperty Landgoed Den Treek (2.000 ha), and is nowadays boardmember of the landproperties Windesheim (660 ha), IJsselvliedt (220 ha), Deelerwoud (600 ha) and is member of the supervisory board of the land-investment company Rhoon Pendrecht en Cortgene (2.000 ha).

Marijke Suriname

Chair Coordinator: Dr M.(Marijke) van Kuijk
Marijke is specialized in tropical forest ecology and is dedicated to the conservation of forests worldwide. She obtained a Doctorate Degree from Utrecht University (2008) on the topic of forest regeneration and restoration in Vietnam. Marijke subsequently worked on a number of international projects, both as a researcher and as a consultant. She has knowledge of climate change, ecosystem services (in particular carbon sequestration), forest certification, (sustainable) forest management, natural resources management, nature conservation and biodiversity. She acquired her knowledge and experience mostly in the tropics, in particular in South East Asia (Vietnam) and the Guianas. Since 2012 she works as Assistant Professor in Tropical Forest Ecology at Utrecht University.

The focus of her research is on the impacts of logging and hunting on the functioning of plant and animal communities. Examples of current research projects include:

  • Plant-frugivore networks in forest fragments in Brazil

  • Biomass dynamics and carbon stocks in logged forests in Vietnam

  • The role of certified forest management in fauna conservation in the Congo Basin

  • Long term impact of hunting on tree composition in French Guiana

  • Upscaling reforestation

  • Use of forest resources by indigenous peoples in Suriname

Marijke also teaches students at bachelor and master level, and she is coordinator of the master program of Environmental Biology. She founded and coordinates the Academy of Ecosystem Services (, which is a platform for development, communication and valorisation of knowledge on the transdisciplinary topic of ecosystem services. Marijke is also board member of the Trésor Foundation (Stichting Trésor – Beschermt wat kwetsbaar is (

Since 2012 Marijke is coordinator of the Prince Bernhard Chair. She organizes visits of the chair holder, provides student courses on behalf of the chair, and develops and supervises research projects related to the chair.