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Leaving one of the largest charities in the world to start his own, Hendrikus van Hensbergen

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

Hendrikus joins Purposely to share his founder story and his passion for inspiring young people to protect the planet.

In 2012, Hendrikus was working for the largest wildlife agency in the world, WWF, when he took two of his colleagues to his old secondary school to talk about their work. They really enjoyed the experience and caught a glimmer of what might be possible if more young people were inspired to fight for the planet.

They decided to recruit their friends working in conservation to do the same, visit schools, talk about what they do and encourage involvement in local groups. There was a steady decline in UK wildlife, a conservation movement that felt stale and a lack of diversity in the sector, something had to change. Action for Conservation was born in 2016 with a vision that every young person in the UK is moved and empowered to protect the natural world.

The organisation has grown into an influential, national environmental charity that inspires and empowers young people. In 2019 it built on this reputation by launching the world’s largest youth-led nature restoration initiative in the Brecon Beacons National Park in the United Kingdom.

“We want to inspire today's young people to a long-term belief in the wonder of the natural world, that shapes their dreams and actions, however their life turns out. Our Mission is to bring the magic of nature into young people's lives, inspiring a youth movement committed to conservation and to the earth.”o conservation and to the earth.

Hendrikus grew up in Southwest England and Central Spain, where he developed a love of nature and the outdoors. He is an author having been approached by Penguin Books in 2019 to write a book for young people about climate action. ‘How You Can Save The Planet’ was published in 2021 and is packed with step by step actions for young activists plus simple explanations, practical tips and stories from children across the world. Described as the ideal guide for young people who are worried about climate change and want to help. Sir Tim Smit, a past guest of Purposely and Founder of The Eden Project said that 'Every young person in the country should be given this book'.

He has a BSc in Zoology from the University of Bristol, where he was awarded the Rose Bracher Memorial Prize for the highest First-Class Honours, and an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation & Management from the University of Oxford.

He has hands-on practical experience in conservation in both the UK and in Chile and has worked on global forest conservation initiatives at WWF-UK, as their Forest Policy Manager.


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