Nature Conservation

As a nature conservation officer you’ll work to protect, manage and enhance the local environment. This can include grassland, woodland, forests, coastal areas, moorland, mountains and rivers. Depending on the region, you might also work in marine habitats. Part of the role is to encourage people to use the countryside and promote awareness of, and understanding about, the natural environment. You’ll develop policy which may have local and national impact. Job titles within this sector are varied and include:

  • Sustainable development officers.
  • Project officers or biodiversity officers.
  • Conservation assistants and technicians.

Typical Work Activities

  • Educate all sectors of the local community, including local schools and colleges, and raise awareness of environmental issues and nature conservation officers’ work.
  • Promote and implement local and national biodiversity action plans in partnership with local/national statutory and voluntary organisations.
  • Contribute to planning and policy development for sustainable management, including input into environmental impact assessments.
  • Provide advice to clients, employers, community groups, landowners, planners and developers.
  • Prepare and implement annual management plans based on ecological surveys and scientific observation.
  • Contribute to the selection of, and assist with casework for, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and National Nature Reserves (NNRs).
  • Evaluate and monitor features of nature conservation interest in habitats and sites.
  • Maintain and develop own knowledge and skills, especially with regard to knowledge of developments in policy, legislation, European and international regulations.
  • Promote the concept of sustainability to the public, colleagues and fellow professionals through talks, tours, literature, displays and workshops.
  • Organise, supervise and train supporting paid staff and volunteers.
  • Maintain effective records using IT database systems.
  • Prepare applications to get funding and grants.
  • Assess applications for funding from other organisations.
  • Liaise with the media to publicise organisation or conservation sites.
  • Deal with enquiries from the public.
  • Educate young people, and those considering entering the profession, through talks and seminars to local colleges and universities.

Technical Skills

  • Good administrative and IT skills.
  • Communicate effectively through talks and presentations.
  • Produce literature such as leaflets.
  • Confidence in leading walks.
  • Knowledge of Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Work experience

Becoming a student member of a professional institute or a member of a relevant organisation such as The Wildlife Trusts is an excellent way to network. Environmental consultancies may be prepared to offer work experience if you have completed your degree. Some Masters courses offer project placements at organisations such as the Environment Agency (EA) and this may be a good way in.
Any experience in conservation, management, education or planning will be invaluable. National and international working holidays are great opportunities to develop valuable experience. Short residential camps, where tuition in a wide range of skills is provided alongside experience in practical conservation is also invaluable.

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