Prince Bernhard Chair holders

2015-present Professor Dr. Jaboury Ghazoul

Jaboury Ghazoul, Professor in Ecosystem Management from ETH Zürich, graduated in Marine and Environmental Biology at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He took his PhD in Evolutionary Ecology at the same university. After a year of working in Vietnam as scientific coordinator for Environmental Exploration, and a three year postdoc with CIFOR and the Natural History Museum in London, he got a position as lecturer and later senior lecturer at the Imperial College London. In 2005 he was appointed Professor of Ecosystem Management at the ETH Zürich.

“I would like to see a future in which not only are environmentally destructive activities halted, but also a future where conservationists, land managers and policy makers are working together to recover and restore healthy forests on the extensive areas of degraded land that now exists across the region.”

2010 - 2014 Professor Dr. Bill Laurance

Professor Laurance is an internationally respected researcher with a professorship at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. He is also attached to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Balboa, Panama. He has spent a quarter of a century living and working in the Amazon, the Congo Basin in Africa, New Guinea and Southeast Asia. As Chair holder, professor Laurance will be studying the relationship between the science and practice of nature conservation. He will carry out research in that field and share his knowledge of nature conservation with conservationists, students, researchers and policy-makers in the Netherlands and outside. One of the possibilities professor Laurance has identified for preserving tropical forests is to harness these ecosystems in the fight against climate change.

“Tropical rainforests all over the world are under extreme pressure. As scientists, we cannot permit ourselves to stand by and watch this happen.”

In March 2012, professor Laurance was awarded with the prestigious Heineken prize for Environmental Sciences for his outstanding contribution to ecology in general and the conservation of tropical forests in particular. Read an interview with Bill Laurance here (in Dutch only). The inaugural lecture and related articles of professor Laurance can be found here.

2004 - 2009 Professor dr. Francis E. Putz

Francis Putz is an internationally renowned expert on tropical forest ecology and management, with a long list of scientific publications. His practical experience stems from forest research in Asia, South America and Africa. Putz is an advocate of “conservation by use” and challenges some of the claims made by conservation organizations for “fortress protection” in protected areas. He also argues that conservation of tropical forests cannot be separated from their developmental, social and economic contexts. He made a strong plea for sustainable forest management in the tropics. Francis Putz is professor of Botany and Forestry at the University of Florida, United States, and is a frequent guest lecturer in tropical countries. During his professorship at Utrecht, Putz’ work focuses on sustainable management of tropical forests.

“The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has stimulated more change in forest management practices than any other project, programme, convention or proclamation over the past decades.”

1994 - 2003 Professor dr. Jeffrey A. Sayer

Having started his professional career as ecological scientist in Zambia, Jeffrey Sayer gradually moved from field work to research management. He is mainly active at the difficult interface of science, conservation, and development. Sayer worked for major conservation (WWF, IUCN-the World Conservation Union) and development organizations(World Bank, United Nations). He was Director General of a world-leading forest science institute, CIFOR. During two terms at the Prince Bernhard Chair, Sayer focused on the scientific bases for conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests. 

“Conservation can only succeed if it is based on a thorough understanding of local ecological, social and economic conditions.” 

1987 - 1992 Professor dr. Norman Myers

Norman Myers has become world-famous for pointing out hidden conservation problems to a wider public. Myers was the inventor of “the hamburger connection”, the link between cheap meat and Amazonian deforestation. He also introduced the term “biodiversity hotspots” for threatened regions with high diversity, which is now a leading principle for investment choices in conservation. Professor Myers won numerous awards for creating public awareness of conservation problems. He has been advisor to UN agencies,World Bank and conservation organizations. While in Utrecht, Myers has stimulated hundreds of students to pursue environmental issues in their studies. Norman Myers is currently visiting professor at various universities worldwide. In 2007, TIME magazine listed Myers as one of the Heroes of the Planet.

 “There are about 10 million species on earth. If we carry on as we are, we could lose half of all those 10 million species.”