The Crossbill Guides Foundation is basically a grass-root organisation of ecologists. Its core consists of young Dutch biologists, who founded the organisation from the notion that it is unacceptable that there is no good information available for non-scientists on Europe's most important natural areas. If we want to maintain, let alone increase public's involvement with nature conservation, the first thing that needs to be done is to invite people to see through the eyes of an ecologist / nature conservationist. We created a concept in which we think this target is best met: The Crossbill Guides.



Dirk Hilbers Director and Author
Dirk Hilbers is the founder and director of the Crossbill Guides Foundation and the main author of the Crossbill nature travel guidebooks. Dirk has been interested in nature since childhood and has been active in the NJN, the Dutch youth organisation for field biology, for many years. During his studies in ecology at the University of Nijmegen, Dirk found out he wanted to focus on nature conservation. The biggest challenge in this was to bridge the gap between conservation and the general public. Especially the conspicuous lack of information on the value of Europe's most important natural areas (Natura 2000) was an incentive to start the Crossbill Guides Foundation. He found himself a great job: combining nature trips and reliving them when writing the travel guides. Next to his part-time job at Crossbill Guides, Dirk also teaches topics like Science & Society, bioethics and science communication at Amsterdam University.



Board of Directors


Johanna Winkelman Board member
Johanna Winkelman has been active as a chairman of the Board of Directors for the Crossbill Guides Foundation since the start of 2014. She was familiar with the guidebooks before she became part of the board since she used them during her own travels. Johanna studied biology at the VU in Amsterdam and the University of Wageningen focusing on ecology, animal systematics and nature conservation in the (sub)tropics. She also decided to take another study in scientific journalism at University of Applied Science Utrecht. Johanna was awarded with many distinctions during her professional career at organisations like the Netherlands Society for the Protection of Birds, Birdlife International, Alterra Research Institute – Wageningen UR, and many more. Johanna’s main motivation and challenge is to take Crossbill Guides to another level. Increasing quality and publishing new books will create more awareness, which in turn will increase awareness for conservation of our beautiful European nature.


Theo Verstrael Board member
Theo Verstrael has been part of the Crossbill Guides Foundation since 2011. He was asked to take part in the organization as a board member during his time as principal at the Vlinderstichting (foundation for butterflies). Theo has studied biology at the State University of Leiden and became a specialist in ecology and environment biology. He started his career at Dutch Bureau of Statistics and worked together with Sovon (bird research) for many years. After 9 years of being the principal at Vlinderstichting, Theo decided to switch to bird research and became Principal of Sovon. Theo finds the Crossbill Guides very fascinating to work for. Especially because knowledge and the love for nature are linked to a specific natural area. The guides add value to all the flora, fauna and the landscape described.




Dennis Wansink Board member
Dennis has been part of the Board of Directors since 2012, which he found was a great challende to work on. The Crossbill Guides Foundation was in the middle of a great evolvement to becoming more professional and expanding their possibilities. Dennis has a great history in (voluntary) jobs at nature clubs since he was 15 years old. Later on he worked for the Department of Agriculture, Nature and Food and the Department of Waterways and Public Works, the University of Utrecht, the Foundation for mammals and many more. Dennis is also active for The Foundation for Habitats to help voluntary workers and foreign nature researchers and protectors. With his knowledge and experience, Dennis wants to support the Crossbill Guides Foundation in order to make people see the beauty of nature and enjoy nature. Nature and all its aspects will always keep surprising you.

Mart Wolter Board member





Albert Vliegenthart Author
Albert Vliegenthart is one of the authors of the Crossbill nature travel guidebooks. Albert is not only co-author but also assist Dirk in acquisition. Since his childhood he is interested in nature, which resulted in the maximum membership of the NJN (Dutch youth organization for field biology). After studying plant biotechnology in Delft, he started working as a molecular biologist in a private company where research in crop characteristics was only sometimes combined with nature aspects. Meanwhile his passion was kept alive by traveling through Europe exploring nature from North to South. Albert’s most favorite destination is definitely Greece. It may be no surprise that a Crossbill Guide will be an outcome of this enthusiasm. Albert also guides butterfly-tours for SNP (formerly provided by EcoTourist Services), where his knowledge of butterflies, dragonflies, birds and other ecological topics can be shared with fanatic ecotourists. Since 2007, Albert works at the Dutch Butterfly Conservation (De Vlinderstichting) as a project leader. In this job Albert likes the diversity of his work. Protection and habitat management for butterflies and dragonflies as main carriers, using professional scopes, volunteers, databases and the knowledge of DNA: wonderful tools for nature conservation.

Kim Lotterman Author
Kim Lotterman is the principle ecological editor of the guidebooks since the start of the foundation. Together with local experts, he checks the contents of each book thoroughly on its ecological correctness. His credo is 'if I get out of it what I want and my mother still finds it an enjoyable read, it's good'. Kim also writes small sections of the guidebooks. Furthermore he does additional ecological research and is the main ecological consultant for the author, Dirk. He also gets to do the thankful jobs like constructing the long species lists with translations in the back of the books. In daily life Kim is working as a researcher at an ecological nature research and consultancy group called 'Natuurbalans', where he focuses mainly on flora. Before working here, he studied biology and environmental studies at the University of Nijmegen.In his spare time Kim enjoys nature. He has a broad ecological interest ranging from mosses and lichens to butterflies and birds, but his main interest lies in the flora of the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. The start of nature conservation starts with knowledge about natural areas, their ecology and how these are influenced. Kim values the Crossbill Guides a lot because they inform tourist and local people about these topics. You can enjoy nature so much more when you know why certain things happen or live in an area.



John Cantelo Author
John Cantelo (1950) assists by editing the English, ornithological and historical content of the Crossbill Guides. John has been interested in wildlife since early childhood and first became involved in promoting the understanding of wildlife whilst at school in Southampton (UK). Having gained a degree in History and Sociology (Keele), he pursued a career in teaching both subjects at secondary level. After moving to part-time school teaching, he combined this with working as a field teacher for the RSPB until his retirement. He has been an active member of the Kent Ornithological Society (KOS) serving on their executive committee and as their newsletter editor. He is also an active member of the Andalucia Bird Society having written a number of articles for their magazine and more recently by acting as assistant editor of their quarterly magazine. He has also producedAs well as watching them, he is also interested in drawing and painting birds. History continues to run a close second to wildlife in his interests. In recent years, he has spent much time in Andalucia where he has a second home.

Bouke ten Cate Author
Bouke ten Cate has been an avid nature enthusiast since childhood. He had been enjoying the foundation's guidebooks for years before he became part of the Crossbill Guides author’s team in 2011. Bouke studied Forestry and Nature Management at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences in Velp, the Netherlands and has been doing volunteer work for several Dutch NGO's like Birdlife Netherlands, SOVON and RAVON. His fascination with nature began with birds but has spread to the fields of orchids, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Apart from being a nature enthusiast he also greatly enjoys nature photography, an attribute which comes in very handy when working on a guidebook. Instead of merely directing the reader to the region's rarities, Bouke likes the fact that the guidebooks really explain nature. By showing how environment, climate, flora, fauna and human activity interact. They show the unique circumstances that make the described region so special. This deeper understanding of nature really heightens the visitor's appreciation of the experience. His motto is 'see everything that is to be seen' so exploring Europe's most wonderful natural areas on behalf of the Foundation was something of a dream come true to him.



Kees Woutersen Author
Kees is one of the authors of Crossbill Guides since 2008. From the moment he set eyes on a Crossbill Guide for the first time, with its wide range of nature topics and practical information, he knew that this is what a nature traveler abroad needs to get around. Kees worked as a teacher in economics and as a consultant for small businesses. However he was member of a Dutch youth organization for field biology (CJN) and several bird groups, for many years. Once established in Huesca, at the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees, he worked professionally with birds and nature. He started his own travel company, organizing nature tours and bird trips all over Spain and publishing several books, e.g. Atlas of the Birds of Huesca (1998). Besides, Kees is active in local bird and nature organizations, organizing and working on education. Kees thinks these books, thorough as well as accessible to a general public, are important to put in value the most important natural areas of Europe. In his opinion, Crossbill Guide activities can convince administrations of different levels to put nature conservation higher on their agendas.

Alex Tabak Author
Alex is active for Crossbill Guides since 2011. He was familiar with the guidebooks from the bookstore. As an author en illustrator, Alex found the guides an amazing tool to combine his love for nature, discover the most beautiful parts of European nature and in turn share this with everyone else. Alex has studied Biology at the University of Wageningen and got specialized in field surveys of flora, vegetation, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies. He is currently working as a freelance ecologist, but in de past he used to be working for Arcadis and the Government as an ecology consultant. In his career he was active within the field of vegetation sampling, plant identification, protected animal surveys and habitat mapping, which makes him a great asset to the team. Next to biology, Alex has a great passion for music, which is also part of his career. He plays electric guitar in rockbands. For many years he played in a succesfull surfrock and rockabilly band and did many gigs around The Netherlands, also in famous venues like Melkweg and Paradiso. "Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional". This saying is translated in his enthusiasm and creativity for writing the Crossbill Guides. Alex wants to inspire others to enjoy nature and every bit of life by sharing this enthusiasm for nature.

Illustrations & Graphic Design


Horst Wolter Illustrator
Horst Wolter (1977) has been drawing ever since he was able to hold a pencil. When Dirk asked him to make a schematic overview of the habitats of the Biebrza river for the first CGF publication, he immediately said yes. Horst is now the illustrator of the Crossbill Guides foundation. After finishing high school Horst had the choice to either study biology or to go to art school. He chose biology at the University of Nijmegen, where he received his master's degree in 2002. All through his studies Horst kept on creating illustrations of the various aspects of nature, from wildflowers and animals to the intricate patterns organs and cells. His main fascination lies in the complex shapes and structures you can find everywhere in nature and how these all have a purpose or function within 'the bigger scheme of things'. Examining and drawing these often cunning structures (from cell to ecosystem) gives a great insight into 'the why of things'. Within his work for Crossbill Guides Horst brings together his love for nature, fascination for its workings and his qualities as an illustrator.

Chris Braat Illustrator
Chris has been active as an illustrator for the Crossbill Guides since 2006. The first book he worked on was Extremadura 1st edition, but he has worked on many others since. Chris makes the overview illustrations in the front cover and the illustrations of species in region maps. Since he was only 10 years old, Chris has been interested in nature and was often to be found in the dunes of Haarlem. He started his study in Biology at the Wageningen University after which he worked for Natuurmonumenten for many years. In 2008 he became principal of the Free Nature Foundation, who develops areas where nature can develop itself, only influenced by the weather and wild animals. Part of these projects are the use of animals like cattle and horses. For Chris, the Crossbill Guides are more than just a travel guide. Apart from the quality and usefulness for different kind of people (experts and hobby travelers), the Crossbill Guides can really contribute to an area’ economy. The guides help tourists to go to a specific area, which will boost local initiatives.



Oscar Lourens Graphic Designer


Sam Gobin Graphic Designer
Sam is working for the Crossbill Guides Foundation as a graphic designer since 2011. It was a way to make a dream to true to develop and improve a concept and contribute to the protection of nature. The Crossbill travel guides make it possible to enjoy, explore and share all the beauties European nature offers. In the past, Sam studied biology, but changed direction to Biomedical Research, where he got promoted. A couple years later, Sam found out he wanted to do something more creative and went to the Art Academy in The Hague, where he graduated for Graphic Designer. He is currently running his own business, running different projects for non-profit organizations, nature conservation organizations, charity goals and scientific organizations. Sam believes his work for the Crossbill Guides Foundation is a way to give back something. He enjoys being part of the organization and help to create something even better. Nature is even closer than you might think, and with these guidebooks everyone is able to explore Europe in a different way.

Marketing & PR


Sarah Bakker Marketing & PR
Sarah has been part of the Crossbill Guides Foundation since 2013 and has been working on different projects concerning Marketing & PR and communication (offline and online). She is mainly focusing on the website, and takes part in events like exibitions. Sarah has studied International Communication & Media at Utrecht University of Applied Science where she mainly focused on Media. During her studies, she worked in different stores, from interior design shops, to food suppliers. Her internship in a creative agency in Sydney, Australia, made her more aware of all the possibilities in the area of Marketing and promotions. Currently she is working as a web editor for Deli XL, one of the leading wholesale companies in the business of food supply, where she can express her creativity in creating online campaigns. With a big interest in travelling, backpacking and exploring the world, her job at Crossbill Guides is a great to be part of the creation of the guides. Nature can be breathtaking, and we should all work together to preserve this. By being part of the Crossbill Guides Foundation, she makes her knowledge in communicating this message of great value.