Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation (BINCO) is a non-profit organisation initiated by five dedicated biologists with a passion for nature and a desire to help preserve the remaining natural resources on this planet. Globally, biodiversity is under serious pressure due to the rapidly growing human population. Many areas and uncountable species are already lost forever. If we want to conserve current levels of biodiversity, an essential first step is to know what species of plants and animals are sharing this planet with us and how they are distributed.

Information about the biodiversity of certain areas, both nationally and internationally, is often surprisingly limited and in most cases restricted to some of the larger organisms. BINCO strives to help fill this gap in biodiversity knowledge and through the collection and dissemination of primary data contribute directly to the protection of selected areas and individual species.

Standardised biodiversity survey efforts are primarily directed  to understudied or threatened regions with a high conservation value. Observations are presented in online reports with species inventory lists and recommendations towards the protection of the studied area. A stable man-nature relationship is essential to successfully tackle the biodiversity crisis and BINCO aims to increase this awareness.

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Founding members & staff

Founding members & staff

Jeroen Casteels – chairman, founder
Jeroen is working as an advisor in nature legislation with the Flemish government. He also worked for an environmental consultancy agency and as a teaching assistant giving laboratory courses in ecology and identification of invertebrates at the University of Leuven. He has a fascination with insects, particularly ants. He was a volunteer in several sea turtle conservation programs.

Dr. Merlijn Jocqué – secretary, founder
Merlijn is associated with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. He studies biological diversity, ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services in the tropics. Merlijn gathered experience in biodiversity assessment of a wide range of organisms and has a keen interest in exploration and pristine natural regions.   

Dr. Vincent Merckx – treasurer, founder
Vincent is an evolutionary biologist and group leader at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands. He teaches at Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam. His research focusses on the evolution of plants and their mycorrhizal interactions. Vincent is passionate about studying biodiversity and organized fieldwork in tropical America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.   

Dr. Steven Janssens – founder
Steven is senior scientist at the Botanic Garden Meise responsible for the molecular genetic research component. The main focus of his research is to investigate evolutionary patterns and speciation mechanisms within flowering plants using biogeography, diversification analyses, phylogenetics, population genetics and bioinformatics. Although he works on a wide range of taxa, he is mainly focused on African trees, bananas, balsams and coffee.  

Samuël Fouret – founder
Samuël graduated as a botanist at the University of Leuven. His main interests are biogeography and evolution. Besides teaching biology and natural sciences, he is a passionate traveller, a devoted surfer, and an enthousiast photographer.

Hanna Stynen – administration
Hanna graduated as a biologist and holds a teaching degree. Within BINCO, she is responsible for membership administration and lends a hand where necessary. Her interests are very broad, but insects in particular can fascinate her. In addition, she is also a novice nature photographer.

Jan Mertens – webmaster
Jan is a PhD student in Afrotropical pollination biology. Yet most of all, he cares about nature conservation and restoration. He has gathered experience in biodiversity assessment in remote, tropical environments with a specific focus on Afrotropical butterflies. Within BINCO, he is involved in several digitisation projects, identifies butterflies and moths, helps with the lay-out and design of reports and other publications, and he maintains this website.  

Martijn Van Roie – volunteer coordinator
Martijn is a PhD student in Ecosystem Management at the University of Antwerp and his key passions are insect ecology and taxonomy. His main expertise focusses on leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) and longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae) with which he is involved in multiple projects regarding their distribution and classification in Central America. Lastly, he coordinates BINCO’s museum digitization projects, including those in the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

Project leaders

Project leaders

Dr. Matthias De Beenhouwer
Matthias is a forest ecologist, working as regional director on reforestation projects for the ngo WeForest. Matthias holds a PhD on Afromontane coffee forestry from the University of Leuven, Belgium. He is specialized in forestry systems and has 8 years of experience working in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. He also has experience with conservation projects and standardized biodiversity assessment of plant and vertebrate taxa.  

Ruben Foquet
Ruben is a bio-engineer, based in Zambia, supporting holistic forest restoration projects for the NGO WeForest. During various conservation projects, Ruben has conducted fieldwork in Ethiopia, Chile, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi and Zambia. He has a broad interest in forest biodiversity especially birds, amphibians and grasshoppers. As a keen photographer, Ruben provided visual stories for multiple BINCO projects.  

Eva Hulsmans
Eva is a PhD student studying biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, looking at arthropods, plants and soil microbiota. Within BINCO, she is mainly active in the MABIMO project organising a youth exchange. In her free time, she enjoys carrying out nature management activities and being out in the field.

Dr. Arne Sinnesael
Arne graduated biology at the KU Leuven in 2015. After his master, he finished a PhD at the same university, researching a plant-bacteria interaction in tropical plants (Rubiaceae). In BINCO, he helps with the MABIMO-project and sponsoring. He is passionate about hiking, nature photography and interested in biodiversity in all its means.

Active members

Active members

Tim van Berkel obtained an MSc at the University of Exeter. As a day job Tim explores the use of seaweed cultivation for biodiversity enhancement and carbon sequestration at The Cornish Seaweed Company. Tim’s research interest and expertise lie with the conservation of threatened terrestrial mammals, using standardised survey techniques such as camera traps. He is passionate about hard-to-reach pristine ecosystems, especially in the tropics.  

Christiaan Ceusters graduated in biology from KULeuven in 2017. Since then, he has been working for the Belgian Federal Public Service Health as a Risk Management Officer for Biocidal Products. However, his focus is on entomology and he has a strong interest in spiders, as well as urban ecology. Christiaan has already completed two expeditions to Madagascar and is currently supervising the identification project on spiders collected over the past few years in Madagascar.

Alexandra Evans is a PhD student at the KU Leuven studying the evolutionary biology and spatial distributions of Epipactis orchids in Europe. Her previous studies focused on African reptiles but she has a keen interest in the biogeography of all organisms. Within BINCO, she is involved in cataloguing the butterfly species occurring in northeastern Madagascar, an initiative aimed to help with identification during BINCO’s yearly inventories.

Dr. Willem-Jan Emsens is restoration ecologist at Antwerp University and B-WARE Research center. He has a broad interest in everything related to conservation and restoration, with a focus on biogeochemistry and community ecology. In BINCO, he is mainly involved in standardized inventories of large terrestrial mammals using camera traps.

Dr. Lore Geeraert is a terrestrial ecologist. She has experience evaluating effects of human actions on local species diversity and ecosystem services. Her main interest lies in tropical (agro)forests and their entomological diversity. She performed multiple years of fieldwork in eastern Africa, but she has also worked in Central-America and Europe. Lore is currently coordinating BINCO’s Park Abbey project in Belgium.

Mathias D’haen graduated as a biologist at the Czech University of Life Sciences. He researched the spatial ecology of Kordofan giraffe in Garamba National Park (DRC) after which he started working there as a geographer for African Parks. Next to that he also worked in Odzala National Park (Republic of Congo) and Chinko Reserve (CAR). He is currently working as a cartographer for esri at the European Commission in Brussels. His main interests are birds and mammals of the wide Western Palearctic and Congo-basin region.

Anouk D’Hont is a PhD student in marine biology and studies anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity of marine fauna in the Ponto Caspian area. She is currently stationed at GiMaRis in Leiden, a marine research and survey company. Even though professionally she is concentrating on marine research, she is also very passionate about terrestrial biodiversity and especially macro-moths.

Cedric Marsboom is an environmental engineer (2014, KULeuven), who did his master thesis on Vegetation Dynamics in Nech Sar National Park, Ethiopia. He is currently the CTO of Avia-GIS where he leads the R&D team. His current main research topic is spatial and mathematical modelling in vector-borne diseases. Before that he worked at the biology department of the university of Antwerp where he worked on ecosystem services. He also previously worked in soil science.

Jonas Merckx graduated biology at KU Leuven in 2016. His current position as a researcher at Biobes involves utilizing mites for biocontrol. Jonas joined the 2017 Madagascar expedition to collect data on invertebrates. He collaborated on different BINCO projects such as the digitisation project at the RBINS and the MABIMO initiative. His experience mostly includes African fish, spiders and hoverflies.

Frederik De Wint recently graduated as biodiversity, conservation and restoration biologist. He coordinates a project on diversity of ants from Honduras, carried out by MyrmEcoDex (the BINCO ant workgroup). Focusing on entomology, his main interests cover tropical biodiversity as well as social insects and arthropods that live in their nests. For his masterthesis, he studied the association between the Common rough woodlouse and Red wood ants.