Vanessa Sequeira's net

Words for Vanessa

Vanessa Annabel Shäffer Sequeira Scholarship

Posted to the Catie Website in September, 2006. There is also a version in Spanish

Vanessa Annabel Shäffer Sequeira was murdered Sept. 3, 2006, while she was carrying out field research in the Brazilian Amazon.


Vanessa was a doctoral student in the CATIE/University of Wales joint doctoral program. Dr. Glenn Galloway, dean of the Graduate School at CATIE, said, "Those of us who knew Vanessa remember her as a dynamic, intelligent, enthusiastic, beloved woman who was totally dedicated to looking for ways to improve the well-being of those whose livelihood is in some way tied to forests." The dean said that the death of Vanessa is an incalculable loss and a senseless tragedy.

Brazilian police report that she was killed by a convicted murderer who had been set free after serving 10 years in prison for killing another young woman. Vanessa was attacked as she traveled by horseback conducting research interviews for her doctoral thesis on balancing trade-offs between livelihood security and forest conservation. Her focus was on forest settlements in Acre, a region of chronic poverty.

At a memorial service for Vanessa on the CATIE campus in Turrialba, Costa Rica, on Sept. 6, Pedro Ferreira, director general, said, "Our challenge is to continue to work toward alleviation of poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, a poverty that engenders despair and violence such as this."

In a BBC article reporting the death, a spokesman for the University of Wales is quoted: "Staff and students in the university, particularly in her department, the School of Environment and Natural Resources, were extremely distressed to hear of Vanessa's death and have expressed their deepest sympathy to the family."

Nathalie Sequeira spoke about her sister from Innsbruck, Austria, in an interview with the Associated Press that appeared in the International Herald Tribune. "Her focus was to see how people could live in the forest without tearing everything down. She spent many years trying to get people to give value to their traditions and things that have worked for many years."

During her 36 years, Vanessa had gained impressive field experience in Latin America. She had worked with Rainforest Alliance in both Peru and Bolivia in forest certification and the Nontimber Forest Products Program. For almost three years she served as field director for the Castañales Conservation Project in Peru with the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA) and the Moore Foundation.

Earlier, she was a forest information officer for the Worldwide Fund for Nature in Godalming, U.K., and had worked as a project assistant on a multidisciplinary Brazil-U.K. research project on the economic botany of Northeast Brazil for the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. In Ecuador she investigated tree species composition of two Andean cloud forest sites as part of a six-month multidisciplinary graduate expedition coordinated by the University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K.


Vanessa held a master’s degree in environmental forestry from the University of Wales in Bangor, U.K., having received her bachelor’s degree with honors from University of East Anglia. Dr Paul Dolman, who studied with her at East Anglia, is among those who have paid tribute to her. "I remember her well as a bright vivacious personality, a very special person."

Lee Dawson, a friend and fellow researcher from the United Kingdom who had just weeks ago worked alongside Vanessa in Brazil, wrote, "She was a beautiful woman, full of conviction, dynamic, courageous, and with a profound sense of social justice and love for the forest and its people. She was one of the rarest and most inspirational women that one could hope to meet today."

CATIE and the University of Wales are working to establish a scholarship to honor this remarkable young professional that will continue her research in the socioeconomics of rural sustainable development, especially in connection with people linked to the forest.

Contributions may be made through The Tropics Foundation, CATIE’s U.S.-based 501(c)(3) foundation.

The Tropics Foundation
P.O. Box 2210
Atlanta, GA 30301-2210

For more information, please contact

CATIE 7170, Apartado 19
Turrialba, Costa Rica, C.A.
+(506) 558-2208

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