If you are passionate about the environment and want to encourage others to enjoy and protect it, this may be the job for you…
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.
As a nature conservation officer you'll need to:
- 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.
Unsocial hours, such as early starts and evening meetings may typically be included in your working hours as a nature conservation officer. It may be necessary to work some weekends and public holidays.
What to expect
- At entry-level in particular, the work can be rough and extremely demanding, often outdoors in all weathers.
- The balance between field work and office-based work varies considerably, with more administration, statistical analysis and report writing associated with senior positions.
- There may be a large amount of administration, normally requiring IT skills. Individual officers are often responsible for their own clerical work.
- The work requires considerable contact with the public and, increasingly, with the media.
- As environmental work is often developed from international policy or good practice, travel abroad to conferences and meetings may be common in some posts.
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