On 19 November 1930, Pieter Gerbrand van Tienhoven founded the Foundation for International Nature Protection (Stichting tot Internationale Natuurbescherming), to promote balance in nature, by protecting threatened flora and fauna and the conservation of geologically important areas. During the first years of its existence, the Foundation was not very active. Van Tienhoven, Chairman, ran the Foundation more or less on his own. Only after his death in 1953 the board officially met for the first time.

Simultaneously, the Commission and Foundation (see: Van Tienhoven and International Nature Conservation) slowly drifted apart. The Foundation engaged in financing conservation projects. During the 1950’s the Commission concentrated on legislation, nature reserves and trade in endangered species in Dutch New Guinea, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles. These activities were financed by the Foundation.

In 1962, the Commission together with the ‘Vereniging tot Behoud van Natuurmonumenten in Nederland’ founded the ‘Natuur Noodfonds Nederland’, in 1966 renamed ‘Wereld Natuur Fonds Nederland’ (World Wildlife Fund Netherlands) following the foundation of the World Wildlife Fund one year earlier (later renamed World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF). The Foundation for International Nature Protection financed the ‘Natuur Noodfonds Nederland’ during its first year.

In the 1960’s and 70’s, Dr. J. H. Westermann (1907-1981) was the driving force behind the Commission and the Foundation, first as Secretary and later as Chairman. His influential role in the international conservation movement was greatly acknowledged and he became board member of a large number of international conservation organizations. Around 1975, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) stimulated greater involvement of its regional members. The Commission took the initiative and established a national I.U.C.N. committee uniting all Dutch members. This committee later obtained legal status and became a separate foundation. Shortly after, the Commission promoted ecological thinking to foreign aid programmes. A subcommittee, led by botanist Dr. M. Jacobs and politician Jhr. M. van der Goes van Naters, managed to have these ideas implemented by the Dutch government. In the 1980’s the Commission rapidly lost ground. The old generation retired and the young people felt less involved with conservation and the traditions of the Commission. For them nature conservation was no longer considered a challenge. Subsequently, the Foundation for International Nature Protection, since the 1960’s also called the ‘Van Tienhoven Stichting’ (Van Tienhoven Foundation) strengthened its position. The Van Tienhoven Foundation acts as the legal body of the ‘Nederlandse Commissie voor Internationale Natuurbescherming’ and publishes the ‘Mededelingen van de Nederlandse Commissie voor Internationale Natuurbescherming’ (see Publications).

From 1978 till 1997, Dr P.J.H. van Bree, initially as Secretary and from 1983 onwards also as Treasurer, was one of the driving forces behind the revival of the Van Tienhoven Stichting. Peter van Bree passed away on February 24th, 2011. His legacy not only included many scientists and conservationists, he also bequested the Van Tienhoven Foundation in his will. The Board honoured his memory by electing two projects for the Van Bree VTS Award:

Since 2005, a Code of Conduct, revised charters and a website contributed to more transparancy, documentation and continuation of the objectives of the Van Tienhoven Foundation to professionally serve a wider conservation community.

Archives of the Van Tienhoven Foundation/Stichting tot Internationale Natuurbescherming and the Nederlandse Commissie voor Internationale Natuurbescherming can be obtained at https://archief.amsterdam/.