My passion for nature conservation started as a child, when I strolled around in nature for hours, especially fascinated by lives under water. Being an adolescent I completely forgot about that, but the older I got, the more the longing for connection with nature returned. This explains why I started my career in business administration and international shipping industry, whilst in the last eighteen years I have been working in nature conservation. My experience in nature conservation ranges from advocacy, starting projects in the field, managing programmes to campaigning.

Some highlights for me were the moments when my teams and I managed to make a change. For example, when we celebrated the decision of the Dutch government to invest 110 million euro in the NL2120 project, scaling up Nature-based Solutions in the Netherlands and abroad. At the World Fish Migration Foundation we cheered when we realised the European Commission took our efforts serious and set a new target to restore fragmented rivers in 2020. I am proud to have started a project in 2011 that led to the 50 million fishmigrationriver project on the Afsluitdijk, reconnecting fresh- and salt water natural processes. I have good memories of when my team and I of the Waddenvereniging got a new target in the Dutch coalition agreement of 2017 to improve management of the Waddensea. One of the most amazing moments in my nature restoration work was the moment in 2010, when me and my colleagues of WWF released Chinese river deers close to the estuary of Shanghai.

I value cooperation, am eager to look for innovative approaches and love to realise successes as a team.

Looking back in my life, a few of the best moments were moments that I stood on top of a mountain, or sitting at sea on my surfboard, feeling free, connected, in balance, rooted and part of a bigger whole. But in 2021, suddenly, my sixteenyear old son died in an accident.  I knew it could happen, but never truly believed it would. It was a shock. Hard reality. I experienced deeply what vulnerability really means. However, I also experienced the power of connection. With people and nature. I felt so much love for people around us, and I found so much comfort and consolation in nature. I think seeing and feeling ourselves in context of all the relations around us give new perspectives to our lives.

My latest experiences in work and private life have made me even more persistent in my ambition to make a change, also if my efforts are in fact just peanuts within the bigger picture. The future is vulnerable, uncertain, but nothing stops us to do our best to make the best of it for now and future generations. I'm eager to connect and team up with people who have similar ambitions.


Links and articles

Je onderdeel voelen van de natuur geeft rust en vertrouwen
Forestme, personal interview;

More than one million barriers fragment Europe’s rivers.
Belletti, B., Garcia de Leaniz, C., Jones, J., Berkhuysen, A. et al., Nature 588, 436–441 (2020);

Beware of small dams, they can do damage, too.
Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, Arjan Berkhuysen and Barbara Belletti, Nature 570, 164 (2019);

Wad en weelde.
Dagblad van het Noorden en Leeuwarder Courant (personal interview Arjan Berkhuysen) 2016;

Met open armen.
Voor het belang van veiligheid, natuur en economie, Arjan Berkhuysen, Wim Braakhekke, Esther Blom, Bart Geenen, Marijn Tangelder, Alphons van Winden, Zeist (2010).