Biodiversity and Society Programme Coordinator

Melissa Felipe Cadillo


Upon completion of my Bachelor's degree in Social Management in Peru, I decided to pursue a career in the development sector, with a specific focus on rural development. My work involved planning, monitoring, and evaluating development projects, with a particular emphasis on incorporating a gender approach. I have experience working on a variety of topics, including sustainable agriculture, forest conservation, rural livelihoods, and agroforestry for coffee and cocoa in the Peruvian Amazon.
Later, I specialised in building strategic alliances to develop proposals for climate funding with companies involved in coffee and cocoa value chains. Through my work, I became interested in the interplay between biodiversity conservation, policy management, and poverty reduction, particularly in biodiversity hotspots in the Amazon region. This interest motivated me to pursue a Master's degree in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management at the University of Oxford.
During my time at Oxford, I deepened my passion and commitment to conservation in the Global South, advocating for fair, equitable, and decolonised conservation action that values the knowledge and voices of indigenous peoples, local communities, and women's rights.

Research Interests


My research interests lie in the domain of conservation, with a focus on indigenous peoples and local communities. I aim to gain valuable insights into the challenges they face and how conservation can be made more effective. I am particularly interested in how evidence is produced and how space and territory are governed over time in conservation efforts. Additionally, I am keenly aware of the power dynamics at play in conservation and the role of ethics in ensuring that interventions are culturally sensitive and effective. My area of interest is primarily tropical forests in South America. I am drawn to the use of social and participatory research methods for the production of knowledge.

Current Research

In collaboration with Dr. Aoife Bennett, my ongoing research builds on my MSc dissertation insights and aims at academic publication. The paper will analyse the threats facing tropical peatland ecosystems within indigenous territories in the Peruvian Amazon. This research collectively seeks to provide a comprehensive perspective on the multifaceted challenges for tropical peatland conservation with challenging socioeconomic dynamics, governance structures, and new actors, contributing to more informed and effective conservation strategies.

Furthermore, as an active participant in the Interdisciplinary Conservation Network (ICN) 2023, I am part of an initiative that empowers early career researchers by fostering global collaboration and equipping them with essential skills to advance their careers. I am currently engaged in a collaborative effort with fellow early career researchers from across the world, focusing on Qualitative Impact Evaluation in Conservation. We aim to produce an academic publication that emphasizes the significance of using qualitative methodologies in impact evaluation in the conservation field. We believe that these approaches offer distinctive insights into comprehending transformative change. By integrating the perspectives of a wide array of stakeholders, qualitative methods unveil both explicit and implicit assumptions, aiding in navigating the intricacies of complex conservation issues.

Brief CV



University of Oxford | MSc Biodiversity, Conservation and Management |
Weidenfeld and Hoffmann Scholar

Thesis: “Peatlands, People, and Policy: Analysing the Relationship between Amazonian Indigenous Knowledge and State-Led Conservation in the Protected Imiria Lake Region, Peru”



Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú | Bachelor’s Degree in Social Management


Work experience:

2023 – present

Programme Coordinator for the Biodiversity and Society Programme, Biology Department, University of Oxford


2019 – 2022

Corporate Business Officer, Practical Action Latin America


2018 – 2019

Business Development Analyst, Practical Action Latin America


2017 – 2018

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Assistant, Practical Action Latin America