Director Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Conservation Program
IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group
Talk to me about:
Fresh Water, Tortoises, ReptilesLocation:
U.S. - D.C./VirginiaLanguages:
Dutch, English, German contact me
Peter Paul van Dijk was born and raised in the Netherlands. In 1986 he moved to Galway, Ireland, to study zoology at the National University of Ireland. After completing a B.Sc (Honours) degree he continued direct into a research-based doctoral degree program, having been awarded a post-graduate Fellowship and a Traveling Studentship by the National University of Ireland. During these post-graduate years he was a Research Associate at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, as a home base for his research on the ecology of the Elongated Tortoise in western Thailand. In parallel to his doctorate research, Peter Paul van Dijk was involved in a variety of conservation-focused research projects in Thailand, focused on forest and freshwater biodiversity surveys and wetland management. After being awarded his Ph.D. degree by the National University of Ireland in 1998, he continued conservation-oriented field research in Thailand, including lead implementer of a commissioned survey of tortoise and freshwater turtle status for IUCN – the World Conservation Union, and was deeply involved in the third biological impact assessment for the proposed Kaeng Sua Ten dam and reservoir.
Concern about the trends in turtle exploitation across Asia led Peter Paul van Dijk to move from the academic sector to the conservation NGO sector in December 1999. The consideration that “I had the choice between staying in academic research and documenting the extinction of Asia’s turtle species, or I could move to an NGO and do something about it” meant that Peter Paul van Dijk applied for, and was selected for, the position of Senior Program Officer at TRAFFIC Southeast Asia (TSEA). The global TRAFFIC Network is the joint wildlife trade program of IUCN and the World Wildlife Fund, its Southeast Asia office in Malaysia covers the entire 11-nation ASEAN region. First task was to participate in a regional workshop on Asian turtle trade, moderate working group to determine the IUCN Red List status of Asian’s tortoises and freshwater turtles, and edit the meeting’s proceedings. The meeting’s communiqué and proceedings were instrumental in strengthening regulatory measures for freshwater turtles under the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). Alongside institutional priorities like ivory and timber, Peter Paul van Dijk remained focused on trade in freshwater turtles and tortoises, writing the winning bid for a tender by the Bundesamt für Naturschutz (BfN), Government of Germany, to develop medium- and long-term measures for the conservation of turtles in Asia. This project, led by Peter Paul van Dijk, was successfully concluded in June 2003, having led to four proposals for the inclusion of a total of seven turtle species under CITES trade regulations as well as producing a detailed analysis of the state and prospects of Asian turtle trade.
As a result of TRAFFIC Network’s strategic direction away from species-specific projects and for personal reasons, Peter Paul van Dijk resigned from TSEA and returned to the Netherlands in September 2002, to focus his full attention on tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation. This included finalizing the BfN project for TRAFFIC, editorial contributions to the Conservation Biology of Tortoises & Freshwater Turtles project for Chelonian Research Foundation, and preparing a further five proposals on behalf of the governments of the United States and Indonesia to include another six freshwater turtle species under the CITES trade regulations umbrella. Combined, Peter Paul van Dijk prepared a total of nine proposals to include 13 freshwater turtle species in the CITES Appendices, which were submitted by the United States, China, Germany, and Indonesia, and every one was adopted. While CITES proposals are formal Party submissions without individual authorship, probably few individuals have written a greater number of successful proposals, with the result that by now almost every threatened turtle species in Asia is covered under CITES trade regulations.
In November 2004 Peter Paul van Dijk joined Conservation International at its Washington DC headquarters, to direct its Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Conservation Program. Principal duties include further analysis of turtle trade, managing the IUCN Red List evaluation process for tortoises and freshwater turtles, and development and implementation of further measures to safeguard the survival of tortoise and freshwater turtle species world-wide, including working with legislative and regulatory processes at US State and Federal level as well as internationally.
Peter Paul van Dijk’s 18 years of dedicated focus on tortoise and freshwater turtle biology and conservation and his ability to envisage and implement effective conservation actions has been recognized by his peers. He has been an invited member of the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) since 1994, and has served as the group’s Deputy Chair since 2000. The TFTSG is the leading body of experts on biology and conservation of these species, comprising about 300 persons world-wide. He is an Advisory Committee member of the Turtle Survival Alliance, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation registered in Texas, and a Scientific Advisory Board member of the Asian Turtle Conservation Network based in Viet Nam. He is a founding Board Member of the Turtle Conservation Fund, an inter-organizational fund supporting critical conservation actions for tortoises and freshwater turtles around the world. While publication of personal scholarly research is no longer a professional priority, Peter Paul van Dijk is co-editor of the Conservation Biology of Tortoises & Freshwater Turtles series of comprehensive species monographs; a member of the Editorial Review Board of the journal Chelonian Conservation and Biology, the world’s premier peer-reviewed academic journal focused exclusively on turtle biology and conservation whose standards have earned it an impact factor of 1.294, being the highest of any herpetological journal and 47th in Zoology overall; a member of the Editorial Review Board of the journal Emys; and he is frequently requested by editors of other journals to provide scholarly peer review of submitted manuscripts. Peter Paul van Dijk is one of six judges on the panel awarding the annual John Behler Turtle Conservation Award, and judges the merit of project applications submitted for funding to the Turtle Conservation Fund, the Conservation Scholarship Program, Earthwatch and others.