At SwedBio, Vanessa works with managing some of the contributions within the collaborative programme, as well as thematic work, policy and method development related to biodiversity, resilience and nature’s contribution to people, and their role in poverty reduction, particularly for the focus areas of biocultural diversity, and values and governance.

Vanessa holds a PhD in Sustainability Science from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. In her PhD thesis she explored how emotional, spiritual and cultural connections to place mediate human responses to change and influence interventions for sustainable poverty alleviation and development. Through engaging with amaXhosa peoples on the Wild Coast, South Africa, she has explored the links between rural-urban circular migration, small-holder agriculture and community conservation. Her work demonstrates how engaging with multiple cultural meanings attributed to ecosystems in place, is important for the success of community development and conservation interventions. Finally, her work also points to the opportunities for stewardship and care of land that lie within senses of place, spirituality and culture.

Vanessa also has a background in ecology, ethnobotany and conservation, and holds a BSc Hons from the University of Witwatersrand with field experience with indigenous peoples in South Africa and Ecuador. Her interests and experience also include respectful and engaging methods of coproduction of knowledge and including photovoice, and participatory GIS. Vanessa also has experience in the environmental impact assessment sector in South Africa.


Contact Vanessa Masterson

Junior Programme Officer at SwedBio
Phone: +46 (0)729 650 860