A range of opportunities to create spaces for nature
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By Corrina Urquhart, Director of External Relations
There are a number of lesser-known jobs on the fringes of conservation, countryside and ecology which offer exciting opportunities to help make the world a better place and be part of the solution to the climate and nature crises.
Ambitious government targets for tree planting, restoration of the natural environment and the creation of green spaces in urban areas are creating a demand for skills in these areas and a diversity of roles. The Lantra careers information resource showcases these jobs and more importantly the people doing them, whilst highlighting the pathways including training and qualifications into these positions.
The UK’s nearly 3 million hectares of peatland store three times as much carbon as forests; they provide a habitat for wildlife; and play an important role in water management. As a Peatland Restorer you will play a vital role in managing one of our largest carbon stores, providing wider benefits such as improved ecosystems and biodiversity, better water quality and natural flood management. There are an increasing number of roles to restore peatland across the UK including Northumberland, Lancashire and Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, Yorkshire. The skills needed include surveying, knowledge of wildlife and habitats, outreach and communications. Training for peatland practitioners has been developed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with the Welsh Peatlands Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS) Project, the Peatland Restoration Practitioner training course now provides this validation with support from the IUCN UK Peatland Programme.
Trees don’t only bring pleasure to millions of us – they provide a broad range of career options. Legally binding targets for tree planting are driving a surge in roles like Tree Surgeon / Officers, particularly focused on the environmental and human health benefits of trees in cities. It turns out that planting more trees in our urban landscapes is fast becoming a way to reduce run-off and increase biodiversity in our cities. There is a need for people with practical skills in tree establishment and continued management to ensure that the right trees are planted in the right place, ensuring their survivability longer term. In addition to the need for communication, tree biology and surveying skills for the officer-type roles. Lantra has a fascinating insight from Patrick Richardson who works for the London Borough of Islington, which forms part of Central London. He gained his Level 3 Technical Certificate and Professional Tree Inspection (PTI) qualifications. This led him to his current role of Tree Officer (Insurance) – a role he’s keen to encourage more Tree Officers to consider as a career. He expressed “Talking to people and giving them an understanding of the trees around them encourages people to notice them more rather than taking them for granted. I must fit these activities around my main tasks but enjoy the opportunity to get back to working with physical trees!”
There are opportunities for people with forestry and ecological knowledge to work in Agroforestry / agroecology. The planting of trees on farms provide shade during our increasingly hot summers, hold water, and help to contain soil in-field – meaning that less soil and inputs are lost in heavy rainfall events. Ecological approaches on farm to enable the sustainable production. Lantra is working with the Chartered Institute of Ecologists and Environment Managers (CIEEM) to understand the need for entry level pathways into ecology as it is important to understand the quantity and distribution of organisms and the relationships between them and their environment. Lantra spoke with Emma Aitken, Assistant Environmental Officer for Cotswold Archaeology in Buckinghamshire. who explained the importance of diverse opportunities- “The best thing about my job is the diversity of what I do. I also love identifying all the different plant remains and molluscs”. We also learnt about her understanding on past environments- “I can also relay what types of crops and foods people used to eat and how they cultivated them, which again helps us understand certain aspects of our past that may have been misunderstood before.”
Green roofs and living walls are increasing in popularity in the UK, particularly in our urban areas, as part of our adaptation to climate change and providing wildlife habitat. In turn, this is driving a demand for skilled installers, who have undertaken training like Green Roofs - Installation and Maintenance - Lantra. Green roofs benefit wildlife and ease the load on drainage systems by reducing water run-off. They provide additional insulation and prolong the life of the roof by protecting its surface from the elements. People with horticultural or landscaping interests tend to be drawn to this role, but ecological knowledge and principles are a real asset to this sector. Lantra is supporting World Green Roof Day on the 6 June to educate others about the benefits of green roofs to our climate, cities, and wellbeing. Follow us on social media #WGRD2022 to find out more, as well as gaining insight to some interesting new case studies.
These roles all play a key role in securing the future of the natural environment, protecting it for future generations. By enabling access to green spaces and nature these jobs also contribute to improved health and wellbeing of the nation.
First published in CJS Focus on Land and Habitat Management in association with the Landscape Institute on 5 June 2023. Read the full issue here
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