After studying tropical ecology, agriculture and environmental science in the Netherlands and Colombia, Ferwerda worked in eco-tourism in Europe and Latin America. From 1995 to 1999 he managed a Rainforest Conservation Fund at IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Between 2000-2012 Ferwerda was executive director of IUCN Netherlands and executed an ecosystem grants program with a project portfolio of more than 1,500 projects in 40 tropical countries. In 2005 founded Leaders for Nature, an international business network on biodiversity and ecosystems and convened 80 business leaders to sign an open letter, stressing the need for pro-biodiversity policies. This led to an agreement between the Dutch Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW) and nature organisations in 2010. In 2012 Ferwerda took a sabbatical to design the 4 returns framework for ecosystem restoration. To implement this framework in the field Commonland was founded together with experts and a private investor. Ferwerda is director of Commonland, Executive Fellow business & ecosystems at the Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University and leads the Thematic group Business and Ecosystem Management of IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management. He serves as board member and advisor of a number of international institutions. In 2016 Ferwerda headed the Top 100 Sustainability List of the Netherlands.