Biosphere Expeditions was founded in 1999 and is first and foremost an award-winning citizen-science-based wildlife conservation non-profit. We fight for a more sustainable planet, which is under attack like never before, by empowering ordinary people to help with wildlife conservation and research through our international conservation expeditions, which unite the concepts of citizen science, ethical volunteering and expedition holidays.

The term "Biosphere" was coined by Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky in 1929 and is defined as "the part of the Earth's surface and atmosphere occupied by living things". This encompassing term, we believe, is a fair reflection of our mission. With our citizen science conservation expeditions we aim to make a difference to our biosphere and at the same time bring enjoyment and fulfilment to our teams of international wildlife conservation volunteers. We do not run tours or just wildlife conservation holidays, but genuine wildlife research expeditions, based on good citizen science and ethical volunteering principles. And we succeed - the creation of protected areas on four continents is just one example.

Expedition leader in training
Henry Taylor
Henry Taylor was born and raised in Cambridge, UK. He served in the Royal Marines, where he worked in the Gabonese jungle, Californian desert and Scottish mountains as well as participating in diving expeditions to Belize and Ascension Island. Upon leaving, he lived in New Zealand's Fiordland National Park, where he worked as a nature guide before leading tours and kayaking expeditions of Australia's Whitsunday Islands National Park. These experiences inspired Henry to pursue a career in conservation, so during lockdown he founded a social enterprise that to date is partnered with nine wildlife conservation charities around the world. Henry is a qualified PADI Dive Instructor and Emergency First Response First Aid Instructor. A keen sportsman, he has completed multi-day ultramarathons in both the Gobi and Atacama deserts and marathons including Glencoe and Prague. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and wildlife photography.

Expedition leader
Roland Arnison

Roland Arnison studied Environmental Science and is a qualified Mountain Leader, a Mountain Rescue volunteer and has led on a variety of expeditions in the UK, Canada, Iceland and Namibia, including introducing young people to the joys and challenges of expeditions in wild places. He has run expedition citizen science projects ranging from sampling for plastic pollution in the ocean to searching for the elusive Collared Pika in the Yukon as a bio-indicator of climate change. Roland’s mountaineering exploits have taken him to un-climbed peaks in the Himalayas and equally challenging times in the Scottish hills in winter. Roland enjoys kayaking, climbing, cycling, filming, photographing, diving and sometimes just walking in some wonderful and wild parts of the world. He has also spent many years looking after a smallholding in Yorkshire, creating wildlife habitats, and experimenting with novel food growing and renewable energy projects.

Expedition leader
An Bollen
An Bollen was born in Leuven, Belgium, where she studied biology and completed a PhD in tropical ecology. At age 18, An went on a year-long exchange programme with a local family in Ecuador, sparking her passion for volunteer travel and exploration. An has worked for over 15 years in biodiversity conservation in the tropics, both in tropical rainforests as well as on coral reefs and often working closely with local communities. She has a soft spot for islands and called both Madagascar and the tiny island of Principe, off the west coast of Africa, home for a while. An has also organised and lead research expeditions on several occasions during her career. An is passionate about the underwater world, an amateur photographer and very much an outdoor, nature-loving person.

Expedition Leader
Paul Franklin
Paul Franklin was born in Oxford and studied zoology at Swansea University. His Masters Degree was based on research of the migratory behaviour and ecology of amphibians. After graduation, Paul spent a year working as a volunteer travel naturalist guide in the Peruvian Amazon. There, among other things, he was bitten by the travel bug. Since then he has led many expeditions and volunteer holidays to far-flung corners of the globe. Travels overseas have been interspersed with time spent in the UK working, among other things, as a Nature Reserve Warden and Environmental Consultant. Never far from a camera, many of his wildlife and travel images have been published in magazines and books. When not travelling on foot through the world's wild places, his preferred modes of transport are a kayak, mountain bike or occasionally a horse.

Expedition leader
Rossella Meloni
Rossella Meloni was born in Italy and has lived and worked in the UK for 12 years before experiencing life further afield by living in Muscat (Sultanate of Oman) and Seoul (South Korea). Rossella studied languages in Italy and gained a BSc in Computing and Information Systems from the University of Portsmouth. Since her first cautious breath underwater, well over a decade ago, she has become increasingly interested in the beauty and welfare of the underwater world. Her love for the marine environment and the outdoors encouraged her to join her first marine expedition in 2006 spending six weeks in a remote coastal village in Madagascar and later to continue training as PADI Open Water Diving Instructor. Her passion for diving and nature has led her to volunteer in remote areas of the world and eventually to lead a variety of holiday volunteering opportunities, some with Biosphere Expeditions. When she is not busy tinkering with technology, leading expeditions, volunteering or supporting environmental causes, she can be found exploring the outdoors and pursuing new adventures. She is also a City & Guilds trained photographer, a RYA competent crew, a keen kite surfer and a qualified Emergency First Response trainer.

Expedition leader
CatherineEdsell2
Catherine Edsell was born in the UK into a family of mountaineers, skiers and adventurers. With wanderlust in her blood she left England in 1997 and set off to the jungles of Central America and Indonesia, lived in the Himalaya with locals, trekked through the Namib desert in search of elusive elephants and dived the oceans surveying coral reefs. Her passion for conservation and volunteer holidays grew as she sought out and trained with expedition organisations that echoed her ecological beliefs, and for seven years straight, her feet barely touched British soil as she lived the expedition life in all manner of terrains. In 2014 Catherine was awarded a fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society for her continued contribution to conservation through expedition work. She is also a mountain leader, PADI Divemaster, coral reef ecologist and Reef Check trainer, and has led in the Azores, the Maldives and Musandam for Biosphere Expeditions. When not on expedition, Catherine teaches yoga, rock-climbs and dabbles in the flying trapeze.

Expedition leader
Craig Turner 
Craig Turner was born in Oxford, England. He studied biology, ecology and environmental management at Southampton, Aberdeen and London universities. Soon after graduating from his first degree, he left the UK for expedition life in Tanzania. Since then, he has continued to combine his interest in volunteer travel and passion for conservation, working with a wide range of organisations on projects and expedition sites in the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. He has managed expedition programmes for the Zoological Society of London, and is a frequent contributor to the ‘Explore’ conference held by the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). He is a Fellow of the RGS and the Linnean Society. Having visited and/or worked in more countries than years have passed, he now runs a small environmental consultancy with his partner, based in Scotland, where he splits his wildlife interests and work between the UK and overseas. He also crews for the RNLI and is casualty care trained. He is ever keen to share his exploits, writing for several magazines, and is a published photographer.

Expedition leader
Anthony Lyons
Anthony Lyons is a qualified mountaineer, as well as a bushcraft and wilderness survival instructor. He has worked for the British Antarctic Survey at the polar Halley Research Station, and has run numerous expeditions across all sorts of terrains and environments on all continents. His expedition work focuses on conservation citizen science, reforestation and building projects with disadvantaged communities. When not on expedition, Anthony likes to ride around in the mud on his mountain bike and writes short stories.

Expedition leader
Amadeus DeKastle
Amadeus DeKastle has been living and working in Kyrgyzstan since 2009. Born in Germany and with a US passport, he holds a Masters degree in entomology from the University of Nebraska. He currently works with NGO Plateau Perspectives in environmental conservation with a number of citizen science research projects. He is also a part-time lecturer at the American University of Central Asia in the Environmental Management Department. In 2014 he found out about Biosphere Expeditions’ work in Kyrgyzstan and signed up as a placement. After two years of volunteering with Biosphere Expeditions, he decided to jump in with both feet and joined the team in 2016.

Operations Assistant France
Pascal Tchengang
Pascal Tchengang was born in Paris, but his roots go back to Guadeloupe and Cameroon. He is a business school graduate, living and working in Paris, and he has travelled extensively all around the world. He first discovered Biosphere Expeditions on a French TV documentary and went on expedition to Namibia. In the Paris agency Pascal is in charge of communication and administration, but he also joins expeditions in the field whenever his time allows.

Operations Manager Germany
Malika Fettak 
Malika Fettak is half Algerian, but was born and educated in Germany. She majored in Marketing & Communications and worked for more than a decade in both the creative department, but also in PR & marketing of a publishing company. Her love of nature, volunteer travel and the outdoors (and taking part in a couple of Biosphere expeditions) showed her that a change of direction was in order. Joining Biosphere Expeditions in 2008, she runs the German-speaking operations and the German office and leads expeditions all over the world whenever she can. She has travelled extensively, is multilingual, a qualified off-road driver, diver, outdoor first aider, and a keen sportswoman.

Operations Manager Australia
Libby Ross 
Libby Ross was born in Australia and educated in Australia, Switzerland and England in areas as diverse as French/cooking/secretarial (Switzerland), Montessori Teacher Training (London) and PR Marketing (Melbourne). After spending her first few years after high school studying and travelling overseas, Libby settled back in Australia and worked in Montessori teaching before focusing on a PR career and running various businesses. Married with three grown-up children, Libby has continued to travel whenever the opportunity arises (both for work and pleasure) and enjoys holiday volunteering opportunities in surf lifesaving, competition ocean swimming, riding, travelling and outdoor adventures with a purpose. She is and always has been a passionate advocate for animal conservation.

Operations Manager North America
Donna Evans
Donna Evans was born and educated in the USA and joined Biosphere Expeditions in 2011. With degrees in Mathematics and Travel & Tourism to her name, Donna spent the first years of her career as a flight attendant before becoming a travel agent in the 1990s. Donna has travelled extensively throughout the US, all seven continents and nearly 100 countries. Donna is also an adventure and volunteer travel specialist with numerous trips to off the beaten path places such as Madagascar and Oman, where she first came across Biosphere Expeditions before becoming our North American Operations Manager.

Founder & Executive Director
Matthias Hammer
Biosphere Expeditions was founded in 1999 by Dr. Matthias Hammer. Born in Germany, he went to school there, before joining the Army, and serving for several years amongst other units with the German Parachute Regiment. After active service he came to the UK and was educated at St Andrews, Oxford and Cambridge. During his time at university he either organised or was involved in the running of several expeditions, some of which were conservation expeditions (for example to the Brazil Amazon and Madagascar), whilst others were mountaineering/climbing expeditions (for example to the Russian Caucasus, the Alps or the Rocky Mountains). With Biosphere Expeditions he has led teams all over the globe. He is a qualified wilderness medical officer, ski instructor, mountain leader, divemaster and survival skills instructor. Once a rower on the international circuit, he is now an amateur marathon runner and Ironman triathlete.

Arabia
Greg Simkins
Greg Simkins, who is South African by birth, is the Conservation Manager for the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) and has worked in the field of conservation and protected areas management since 2001. Greg began his career as a field guide in 1999. In 2001 he became a Reserve Officer in the DDCR and was heavily involved in the planning and implementation of eco-tourism activities within the protected area, which was created in 2003. In 2003 Greg took on his current role and was appointed Conservation Manager for the DDCR. He is now responsible for the overall management of the Reserve and has been at the forefront of its development from conception in 2003 to its current international recognition. He also plays a major role in conducting key conservation research studies throughout the DDCR. Prior to coming to the Middle East, Greg studied at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg in Kwazulu-Natal, where he also did graduate work, including resource assessment and allocation for a farm, soil surveys and research at an ostrich export farm in the Eastern Cape.

Armenia
Lusine Aghajanyan
Lusine Aghajanyan holds one Bachelor (Yerevan State University) and two Masters (Yerevan State University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) degrees and has throughout her career been involved in nature conservation with different scientific and NGO groups. She has expedition experience from inside and outside Armenia and is a trained field biologist. Lusine was involved with WWF Armenia for several years and in 2017 became the conservation manager of NABU Armenia, a branch of NABU Germany. With NABU she has led, and continues to lead, various conservation, research and eco-educational projects. In order to strengthen conservation strategies in Armenia, she contacted Biosphere Expeditions to request assistance with surveying one of the most important and least researched areas of Armenia – the Zangezur Biosphere Complex.

Azores
Lisa Steiner
Lisa Steiner graduated in Marine Science in 1988 at University of Miami and joined the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) cetacean research vessel “Song of the Whale” two weeks later, which at the time was based in the Azores. Since then Lisa has spent all her summers working on cetaceans around the Azores and at other times has also studied them in Alabama, Hawaii, Cape Verde, Bermuda, Scotland and Madeira. She has published numerous research papers on cetaceans. 

Germany
Peter Schütte
Peter Schütte was born in Germany and studied geography and geoinformatics at the Universities of Bremen (Germany), Gothenburg (Sweden) and Salzburg (Austria). He has worked in this field for several international mapping and remote sensing projects, one of which involved him in wildlife conservation in Namibia, where he was a member of Biosphere Expeditions’ team of local scientists and was promptly bitten by the wildlife conservation expeditions bug. Starting in 2004, Peter has led expeditions in Namibia/Caprivi, Altai, Oman and Slovakia for Biosphere Expeditions. Working on cheetahs, leopards and lions in Namibia, he gathered experience in the field of human-wildlife-conflicts. Back in his native Germany, Peter is now working to gain acceptance for the return of wolves to the country. He is involved in wolf monitoring and working on solutions for the protection of livestock.

Malawi
Olivia Sieverts
Olivia Sievert is a Canadian ecologist with her BSc Honours from Dalhousie University (Canada) and her Masters from Stellenbosch University (South Africa). In Malawi, where she arrived in 2014, Olivia has worked with a wide variety of animals from vultures to big cats to primates. Her speciality is carnivore ecology. In Liwonde National Park she developed and runs the monitoring programme for the reintroduced carnivore population, which includes Malawi’s largest cheetah population. Olivia now manages LWT's research department.

Maldives & Musandam
Jean-Luc Solandt
Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt is a Londoner with a degree in Marine Biology from the University of Liverpool. After graduating, he spent a year diving on the Great Barrier Reef assisting field scientists in studies on fisheries, and the ecology of soft corals and damselfish. He returned to the UK and enrolled in a Ph.D. in sea urchin ecology in Jamaica, based both in London and Jamaica. He went on to be an expedition science co-ordinator for projects in Tanzania, the Philippines and Fiji, and is now undertaking campaign and policy work in planning and developing Marine Protected Areas in the UK. He has been the Reef Check co-ordinator for the Maldives since 2005, and has thus far led three expeditions to undertake surveys inside and outside Marine Protected Areas on the islands. Jean-Luc has 800 dives clocked up since he trained to be a marine biologist 20 years ago.

South Africa & Kenya
Alan Lee
Dr. Alan Lee, the expedition’s field scientist is an honorary research associate at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology (University of Cape Town), editor of Ostrich: African Journal of Ornithology, and currently works for BirdLife South Africa surveying avifauna of the Karoo biome in South Africa. In 1996, he graduated from the University of Witwatersrand with an Honour’s Bachelor’s Degree in Botany and Zoology. While working and travelling from London he obtained a Diploma in Computing in 2001. He then commenced a period of seven years in Peru, first working for a volunteer project investigating impacts of tourism on Amazonian wildlife, and then from 2005 to 2010 he undertook a Ph.D. on the parrots of the Peruvian Amazon. Biosphere Expeditions part-financed and contributed data to the Ph.D. resulting in various peer-reviewed publications. In 2011 Alan set up the Blue Hill Escape guest establishment on the Blue Hill Nature Reserve with his wife, Anja, and parents Chris and Elaine Lee. From 2012 to 2015 he was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Cape Town researching the status of the endemic birds of the fynbos.

Sweden
Andrea Friebe
Andrea Friebe was born in Germany and studied biology at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. She has worked in the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project (SBBRP) since 1998 and wrote her master thesis and dissertation about brown bear hibernation and ecology in Sweden. In 2001 she founded the company Björn & Vildmark, which is an interface between bear research and information for the public and for managers. Andrea is SBBRP’s researcher responsible for all den descriptions and also its appointed field technician.

Thailand
Kerri McCrea
Kerri McCrea is the manager and co-founder of the Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary. Her BSc, majoring in zoology, is from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Kerri speaks the local hilltribe language and as such also organises community education and other activities.

Tien Shan
Volodya
Volodya Tytar was born in 1951 and his Master’s Degree in Biology is from Kiev State University. At that time he first experienced the Altai mountains and wrote a paper on the ecology of the brown bear in the Altai. He then pursued a career as an invertebrate zoologist before shifting towards large mammals and management planning for nature conservation. Apart from the Altai, he has worked with Biosphere Expeditions on wolves, vipers and jerboas on the Ukraine Black Sea coast and has been involved in surveying and conservation measures all his professional life. 

Biosphere Expeditions started in 1999 as one of those famous "in the shower" ideas. Our founder, Matthias Hammer, with a military career behind him, some student expeditions under his belt and disillusioned with the ivory tower mentality of academia, was looking for a way to combine his training as a biologist with some real-life, hands-on conservation work within a volunteer holiday setting. When someone suggested "why don't you take people on expedition with you", the idea for Biosphere Expeditions was born.

It took a year to set up Biosphere Expeditions as a non-profit organisation in the UK and another year to recruit the first expedition team. The first expedition ran in 2001 to Poland, studied wolves of the Carpathian mountains and was instrumental in establishing a wolf hunting ban there. Demand was high and many expeditioners, once bitten by the bug, came back for more, so the expedition portfolio quickly increased to include Peru and the Azores, the latter still running today.

More holiday volunteering opportunities were added, the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions came into being, awards won, and the media took a great interest in Biosphere Expeditions. The German office opened in 2002, followed by France in 2004, North America in 2006 and Ireland in 2017. As volunteering became more popular, shady and unscrupulous operators started moving in to exploit people's goodwill, so our first campaign was the Top Ten Tips on how to beat the charlatans in voluntourism. In 2018 the HQ moved from the UK to Ireland in Biosphere Expeditions' very own Brexit in the wake of the UK's increasingly anti-European and nationalistic agenda.

In 2007 a new website was created and Biosphere Expeditions diversified to offer 2-week expeditions and 1-week projects across the globe, as well as experience days in the UK and Germany. In 2014 another completely re-designed website was launched to reflect and showcase the many areas that Biosphere Expeditions is now active in from conservation successes to capacity-building to involving local communities. Another overhaul of the website in 2018 saw the expeditions portfolio grow to 14 and the achievements stretch over four continents.

Over the few years all this was rewarded and recognised through of awards and accolades such as “Best Volunteering Organisation” (First Choice Responsible Travel Awards), “Top Conservation Holiday” (BBC Wildlife, UK), “Best Holiday for Green-Minded Travellers” (Independent on Sunday, UK), “Best New Trip” (National Geographic Adventure, USA), “Top Holiday for Nature” (P.M., Germany), “Environment Award” (from the German government), etc.

Next to this cornucopia of awards, Biosphere Expeditions also became an officially accredited member of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA).

In 2019 Biosphere Expeditions celebrated its 20th anniversary in two parts: During the first half of 2019, we looked back at our history and achievements in the 2019 annual magazine. We also used the opportunity, and seeing the signs of the times, to overhaul our policies to reject neoliberalism and the fairy tale of continuous growth on a finite planet as well as destructive corporate sponsorship, whilst at the same time going vegetarian. During the second half of 2019, we followed up on this: In our first 20 years, we were focused on citizen science and wildlife conservation. We pledged to continue with this focus, but this, we felt, is no longer enough, because the undeniable crisis our planet is in demands more action and activism. It demands a radical rethink of how we run our lives, societies and the way we treat our planet. Our answer was more campaigns such as our 20 tips on how to be (radically) greener, our Do More campaign or our tips on how to beat the volunteer charlatans. Our 2020 annual magazine mirrored this new development of more activism and campaigns for our planet. We have a duty to act if we want to be able to look our grandchildren in the eyes in the future. Please join our efforts!

Then, as we were putting more emphasis on campaigning, the coronavirus appeared, to be declared a pandemic in March 2020. From then on, there were no more holiday volunteering opportunities for people. Almost immediately, in April 2020, we started to run a fundraiser that was all about getting our local conservation partners through the crisis. This ran until the end of 2020 and raised €50,000 (an overview of what this money achieved is on our blog). In February 2021 we announced that there would be no volunteer holidays in that year either. This meant that there was to be next to no income for us for close to two years. With this, our survival was at stake, so we started our own survival appeal, which ran until October 2021. Once again many generous donors (many of them repeat donors from the coronavirus fundraiser) stepped up and we were able to raise € 30,000 to ensure our survival through the crisis. In October/November 2021 we ran our third fundraiser to make sure that all our local support staff and helpers (and their immediate family) are vaccinated. This raised over € 5,000.

Now, in 2022, we are hoping things will slowly get back to a new normal and we learn to live with the virus whilst being able to empower people again to help hands-on in wildlife conservation across the globe.