Matthew Zylstra

Matthew is an ecologist, educator and facilitator passionate about meaningful nature experience and rewilding our relationship with life.

He obtained a transdisciplinary PhD in conservation ecology and transformative sustainability through Stellenbosch University (2014) and is one of the only researchers in South Africa to have published widely on the theory and practice of nature connectedness in conservation and sustainability education.  As a contracted field lecturer/instructor for Wildlands Studies (Western Washington University), he has led immersive outdoor programs for over 10 years across the southern hemisphere.

Matthew is a Research Associate with the Sea Change Project. He sits on various Advisory Boards and consults over half a dozen organisations locally and internationally on bespoke organisational/communication strategies and education/research program design for enhancing deep learning and regenerative relationships with life. 

Matthew holds an enduring curiosity with the latest (neuro-)scientific understandings of consciousness and how the application of intention and attention shapes our nature experiences and, ultimately, our neurophysiology in support of connectedness and wellbeing.

His facilitation approach is influenced by the work of 8Shields, IONS and Theory U and life practices from Buddhist, Taoist and early human forager/animist traditions. 


PhD, Stellenbosch University 2014: Conservation Ecology & Education: "Meaningful nature experiences, nature connectedness and transformative sustainability" 

MSc, Wageningen University 2005: Environmental Sciences / Policy: "Integrated Ecosystem Assessment" 

BBus. Queensland University of Technology 1998: Marketing & International Business

8Shields Training: Nature Connection; Transformative Mentoring & Regenerative Communities; Kamana Naturalist Skills

IONS Training: C3: Consciousness, Communication & Change; and Living Deeply

Facilitation Skills & Deep Listening Training through Renaissance Business Associates 


Icons made by Freepik from