About ITCF

The International Tropical Conservation Fund (ITCF) is a charity created in 1989 by two European zoos, the Papiliorama in Kerzers, Switzerland and the Royal Burgers’ Zoo of Arnhem, Netherlands. The ITCF strives to link words to acts by carrying out very concrete and efficient action to conserve tropical ecosystems. It is very much an international and decentralized organization, legally based in several countries around the world.


Our Mission

ITCF’s mission is to contribute to the conservation of tropical forests, by funding and carrying out highly practical and concrete projects in the tropics. Its goal is to dedicate its support to projects over a very long period of time, in order to ensure their long-term viability, and to fund what is traditionally so difficult to fund, namely operational costs.

In a world where 80% of protected areas are underfunded, understaffed and underprotected, we emphasize foremost on ensuring the integrity of our protected areas, in order to make certain that biodiversity is effectively preserved. To reach its goals, ITCF fundraises among the public, foremost visitors to the zoos involved, while also seeking the support of corporate partners and grants from other funds.

ITCF’s ultimate aim is to replicate its current long-term project in Belize also in Africa and in Asia. However, this second phase shall only be feasible and implemented when the Belizean project has reached its completion, i.e. when all protected areas encompassed within the project have been linked and consolidated, and their funding is fully secured.


In 1988, the Papiliorama Zoo of Kerzers, Switzerland and the Royal Burgers’ Zoo Arnhem, Netherlands both opened their respective indoor tropical exhibits. Their directors, Maarten Bijleveld and the late Antoon van Hooff decided to unite efforts in order not only to talk about the fate of tropical forests, but to actually do something about it: the International Tropical Conservation Fund (ITCF) was born. Two charities were simultaneously created, one in Switzerland, and one in Holland, and both are still based at the respective zoos. The ITCF now also exists as a 501c3 organization in the United States of America.

The Shipstern Conservation & Management Area in north-eastern Belize (Central America), ITCF’s main project to this day, was acquired in 1989, and covers approximately 88 km2, or 21’750 acres. This protected area is very diverse in habitats, ranging from lagoons and mangroves to dry coastal as well as subtropical forests typical of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is owned and managed by the Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative (CSFI), a Belizean NGO created by ITCF, on which board several ITCF board members are represented. ITCF to this day remains the main funder of CSFI and Shipstern Conservation & Management Area.




The ITCF in Switzerland is a small charity, recognized as a public utility and supervised by the Federal Authority for the Surveillance of Foundations. It is exempt of taxes both on the federal and cantonal levels. All donations made in Switzerland are thus tax deductible. The board is composed of six members, who in their capacity of board members work on a voluntary basis.

Maarten Bijleveld, founder of Papiliorama, president
Caspar Bijleveld, director of Papiliorama, secretary
Chantal Derungs Jakob, biologist, treasurer
Prof. Philippe Küpfer, former prof. of Botany at the Univ. of Neuchâtel, member
Geert van Mesdag, president of the Board of Papiliorama, member
Alex van Hooff, director of Burgers’ Zoo, Arnhem, Netherlands


ITCF-Netherlands is a registered non-profit foundation with ANBI status, and based at Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem. Its board is composed of:

Maarten Bijleveld, founder of Papiliorama, president
Alex van Hooff, director of Burgers’ Zoo, vice-president
Maut Star Busmann, tropical forester, Hon. Secretary
Menzo Kwint, economist, treasurer
Constanze Mager, head of education Burger’s Zoo


The ITCFund – USA (also known as ClimatePath Ecologic Fund) is a US 501c3 charity created to fund high impact ecological conservation projects. As a partner of the Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative, a primary goal is to help support tropical forest preservation work in Belize. Its board consists of:

Dave Rochlin Executive director and faculty, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, and CEO ClimatePath – Chairman
Charlotte Opal, Fair Trade & certification specialist
Nelson Shelton, assoc. dean of Saint Mary’s College of California (retired)


While most funds come from individual donors, ITCFund is also thankful to receive the financial support of several other European Zoos, as well as various companies worldwide. Is your company interested in supporting our projects, while being assured that your contribution is invested wisely without being consumed by overheads? Please contact us.

ITCF is currently seeking to find more partners among zoos, in order to replicate the zoo-based support model which has been used for the past 25 years. Does your organization want to save tropical forests? Please contact us.

Contributing Zoos

Cologne Zoo is one of the largest and oldest zoos in Germany. Established in 1860, it has long been renowned for its progressive and innovative husbandry of animals. Find out more!

In Gossau, a city in the eastern part of Switzerland, the Walter Zoo has been an important attraction ever since its creation in 1961. Find out more!

With over 1.000 species of animals, Wilhelma is one of the most species-rich zoos in the world. In addition, more than 7.000 species of plants adorn its botanical garden. Find out more!