With a strong background in communications and a passion for wild nature, Laurien Holtjer started as the new Head of Communications at Rewilding Europe in March. We caught up with Laurien to find out a little more about her and her aspirations.
How long have you worked for Rewilding Europe?
Since March 25, 2019.
Why did you decide to become involved with rewilding?
I first heard about Rewilding Europe when it was founded, back in 2011. At that point I was already involved in nature conservation as a journalist, and was transitioning into more strategic and online communications. When I saw the head of communications position open recently I was really excited and knew that I needed to apply.
It just felt the right moment after the experience I had gained as a communications manager over the last eight years. Contributing to wilder nature and bridging the gap between nature conservation and society is my dream job.
You have a strong background in communications. How important would you say communications are in conservation?
Communications are tremendously important. I think Rewilding Europe is already doing a good job with its outreach, with awareness of rewilding increasing all the time. I am thrilled to be able to build on this already well-established platform and focus on demonstrating the beneficial impact of rewilding, increasing involvement, and sharing the Rewilding Europe vision.
With its proactive, positive and inclusive message, rewilding is engaging – it shows that conservation isn’t about putting fences up around wild nature and just preserving what we have, but about dynamic relationships and increasing those vital connections between wilder nature and people.
How will you go about making Rewilding Europe’s communications even more impactful?
While awareness is very important, it’s just the first step. I want to generate more impact by getting people active in their support for rewilding. This will require – now more than ever – exceptional writing and cutting edge visuals that make our stories stand out.
I want to take readers and viewers to our rewilding areas and let them experience how nature and people are benefitting from our rewilding efforts. Videos are a particularly important tool for this. We are now working with National Geographic Wild to create a really exciting new series about Europe’s magnificent wild nature – I think some Europeans will be surprised to see such nature living on their doorstep!
At the same time our focus should be on engaging with people and stimulating user-generated content. After all, we shouldn’t be the only ones creating pictures and stories. There are a growing number of (potential) rewilders out there who believe wilder nature is a fundamental part of our lives and wellbeing, especially after they have experienced it! I want to connect and interact with them.
Everyone can contribute to making Europe a wilder place by sharing their emotions, knowledge and experience, by supporting projects, and by advocating the huge benefits of rewilding. I aim to facilitate this as much as possible.
Need of Rewilding
What would you say are the biggest conservation challenges that Europe faces today? How can rewilding help address those challenges? Why does Europe (and Europeans) need rewilding?
There are so many – loss of species, climate change, plastic. Sometimes I do just want to cry. But at the same time I truly believe in the strength of nature itself.
Rewilding gives me hope – with its positive outlook and holistic approach involving people and nature, it tackles so many of the issues that we as Europeans face.
These days a lot of the news about the environment, biodiversity and conservation issues is negative. Are you optimistic about the future of wild nature in Europe and across the world?
Yes, the news is often bad, but I refuse to give in. We can all make small changes and with joint efforts take bigger steps forward. One of the first meetings I had in this position was with all the team leaders when we gathered in Portugal in April. It was inspirational to feel their commitment and amazing to see how rewilding is already transforming the landscape of the Côa Valley. This gave me hope that with passion and commitment, we can turn the negative into positive.
What would you like to see achieved in your area of work over the next five years?
I would like everyone in Europe to know about and support rewilding. And that they believe and are involved in rewilding – not just think it’s a nice story. I want people to be walking in a forest or exploring a river landscape that has bounced back thanks to rewilding, and make the connection between the wild nature around them and rewilding.
Connecting with wild nature
One of Rewilding Europe’s aims is to reconnect people with wild nature. Do you need wild nature in your life?
I love being in the open – walking, hiking, running. With my passion for scuba diving, I’d have to say being underwater is my favourite place. Surrrounded by everything from whale sharks to colourful marine molluscs, you feel (and are) part of another world. I always feel small and vulnerable underwater, which I actually love. You can really appreciate the full magnificence of nature.
What’s your favourite animal?
That’s a very difficult question. I don’t have just one. I saw my first tree frog recently, which was thrilling. I love eagle rays, lynx and otters. And the beaver, because of its high impact engineering skills.
Connect with Rewilding Europe
- Join us!
- Social media: Facebook; Instagram; Twitter; LinkedIn; YouTube.
- People behind Rewilding Europe.