Our People

Brian van Eerden

Virginia Pinelands Program Director, Virginia

Richmond, VA

Brian van Eerden headshot.

Brian van Eerden Virginia Pinelands Program director for The Nature Conservancy in Virginia. © Kyle LaFerriere

Areas of Expertise

Longleaf pine & floodplain forest ecosystems, fire ecology & management, conservation partnerships

Media Contact

Chelsea Bowers


As the director of the Virginia Pinelands Program, Brian manages TNC’s conservation work across the southeastern Coastal Plain, one of the most biologically diverse regions of the state. In his more than 20 years with TNC, Brian’s areas of focus have come to include longleaf pine and floodplain forest ecosystems, fire ecology and management, native plant conservation, peatland restoration, land conservation funding and land protection.

Brian leads the chapter's effort to re-establish longleaf pine forests to Virginia as part of a nine-state effort to restore one of the most species-rich ecosystems in North America. TNC’s management of its nearly 4,000-acre Piney Grove Preserve, at the heart of the Virginia Pinelands Program area and a centerpiece of ecological fire and forestry practices for longleaf restoration, is renowned for the successful recovery of one of Virginia's rarest bird species, the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Working with an array of public and private partners, Brian has helped permanently protect nearly 35,000 acres of pineland, floodplain forest and estuarine marsh habitat, securing more than $50 million of funding to accomplish this work. Much of this land is now owned and managed by state agencies for public access.

Brian has fostered key partnerships to broaden TNC’s impact on conservation across southeastern Virginia and beyond. He helped establish and is coordinator of an interagency collaborative to advance protection and management of pineland forests in Virginia for longleaf ecosystem recovery. He serves on a science advisory team for peatland forest restoration of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and formed a private/public/academic partnership that is advancing the science of forest conservation as a nature-based solution to address coastal flooding.

Key partners include state partners in the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (Natural Heritage Program), Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and Virginia Department of Forestry, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, various localities and academic researchers.

Brian has a Master of Science degree in botany from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Science degree in plant science from Penn State University.

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