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I sometimes get asked how I got into my ‘line of work’. I have worked for wildlife related non-government organisations for most of the last 15 years. My current role is Engagement and Surveys Officer for England for the BTO says David White, BTO Engagement & Surveys Officer (England)
There are many possible routes into getting a job working with birds. In this article, I will address some frequently asked questions by drawing on some of my own experiences. One assumption is that to get a job working with birds or in nature conservation, you need to have a biology-based degree. Although a biology-based degree can be a great help, it isn’t essential.
On World Water Day, those of us working in the freshwater sector ought to be grateful that rivers are receiving more attention than ever before. Usually though, it’s not positive attention/for positive reasons. In 2022, sewage pollution, flooding, and drought all hit the headlines and drew public focus and frustration across the UK and Ireland. Sewage pollution is undoubtedly the water quality issue that captures the most public interest, but it’s just one of many interrelated issues that must be addressed to bring our rivers back to health.
Personal or professional, I’m one of many who have explored poetry for self-expression, albeit quietly. For me, writing is a way to process experiences and emotions. It can build structure in the deepest voids.
Within an audience, poetry can transcend the author and intent. It can strike the jugular – urging emotion, connection, and self-reflection. Sometimes it soaks up gaping emptiness or builds bridges across unfathomable ravines. In a world littered with stimulants, pacifiers, and sincerity blockers, poetry can re-electrify the integrity of the soul.
Here at Kent Wildlife Trust - the county’s leading conservation charity - we have approximately 150 members of staff, all with varying backgrounds and experiences of working in our sector. Like many conservation organisations, there is one thing that most of our staff have in common: how they utilised volunteering experiences to help them with their conservation careers.
The National Biodiversity Network Trust (NBN Trust) is a small, specialist charity which provides vital evidence for nature’s recovery in the UK. We build partnerships to meet the needs of those who require biodiversity data – for policies, planning, research and conservation – and to connect people and communities with nature. Without the NBN Trust, much of the UK’s biodiversity data would remain unseen, unknown and unused. But we don’t work alone. Partnership is central to our mission, and for 22 years, we have connected organisations, large and small, through our National Biodiversity Network: a dedicated community of more than 200 organisations, who are passionate about wildlife data. Working together, we create a vast flow of data carrying the evidence needed to protect and restore biodiversity, and the stories to inspire wonder and commitment.
It’s hard to believe that this year HighGround will have been in operation for 10 action-packed years. When Anna started the Charity it was a distant milestone she never contemplated reaching, but thanks to the support and encouragement of so many people who understood the motivation behind helping those who have served their Country who don’t want to work in an office when their military careers are over, we are going strong and looking towards our next decade of Life beyond the military – Outdoors.
There is a wide range of research supporting how connecting to nature reduces anxiety and depression, increases our feelings of joy and happiness, improves our ability to cope with stress and helps us to feel more satisfied with life. There is also growing evidence showing how nature is both beneficial on our mental health and is also an important protective factor.
I grew up in a small village in Dorset in the 60’s and 70’s, with four working farms in the village. I had pet newts at one stage and jars of cinnabar moth caterpillars (the orange and black stripey caterpillars of the cinnabar moth) on my bedroom windowsill. My mother knew all the common wildflower names and taught them to us on walks and my father took us camping, fishing, boating and swimming.
For 50 years the Woodland Trust has been standing together for woods, trees and wildlife. In 1972 a group of friends gathered around a kitchen table in Devon to discuss saving a local wood. That day the Woodland Trust was born. The kitchen table belonged to Kenneth Watkins OBE – founder and first chairman – who was so concerned about the loss of ancient woodland, he decided to do something about it.
If you’ve never heard of seagrass, you’re not alone. It is the hidden wonder of the marine world. A plant that moved from land to sea and adapted to life underwater in the shallow, sheltered areas of our ocean. Like plants on land, seagrass has roots, shoots, and even produces flowers and seeds. It is these qualities that make seagrasses so unique.
Having chosen a career where most of my time is spent with livestock, I couldn’t have imagined that running events could become such an enjoyable part of the job. The atmosphere, learning new skills (sometimes only a few days ahead of those attending), connecting with the wider community and the beaming smiles at the end of the day. Hosting events can bring a different sense of impact and satisfaction at work.
Bristol City Council’s transport engagement team commissioned Go Jauntly and Tranquil City to explore how a bespoke ‘Green Routes’ app feature can encourage healthier and more sustainable walking journeys. The app feature offers citizens of Bristol alternative routing options calculated using multiple environmental quality benefits, including greener, quieter, less polluted and more appealing journeys.
In 2020, Voyage Youth, Generation Success, Students Organising for Sustainability UK and Action for Conservation joined forces with 33 leading nature and sustainability organisations to launch Race for Nature’s Recovery, an employment scheme to support 125 young people from predominantly underrepresented backgrounds into paid six month work placements. Now, 18 months after the scheme launched, we are reflecting on the changes, learnings and challenges from the scheme and looking to the future.
FIRST enshrined in law in the Magna Carta, and once making up nearly half of Britain, now only 3% of land in England is common land. It’s fabulously special land, with delicate ecosystems and important archaeology, which we can all access and enjoy. Common land has 21% of all Sites of Scientific Interest, 12% of all Scheduled Ancient Monuments and 40% of all Open Access land. Furthermore, the centuries old farming practices, are unexpectedly relevant to many 21st century challenges – delivering nature recovery, flood management, carbon sequestration and wellbeing.
With thousands of volunteers, communities and organisations collaborating across the country, citizen science is powering efforts to protect the natural world
Wildlife conservation relies on an extraordinary workforce. Across the country, tens of thousands of local experts are walking along hedgerows and waterways, in community orchards and back gardens and over Ordnance Survey grid squares they barely know, collecting data on buds and birds, butterflies and bats, and doing the groundwork of conservation.
Adam Collett works for Bridgwater and Taunton College across a range of sites in the UK for a variety of work places – rivers, parks, woodlands, forestry, grasslands, moorlands etc.
Anna had tried a number of roles, but fancied a change that would allow her to follow her passion for nature and the outdoors and this apprenticeship was the perfect fit.
Why did you decide to start an apprenticeship?
I’d had a variety of jobs in the past and wasn’t feeling very fulfilled. I’ve always had a passion for nature and an apprenticeship with the National Trust was the perfect opportunity to get into a career in conservation.
Why an apprenticeship rather than any other form of further education?
I’d not enjoyed university and the idea of learning on the job really appealed to me.
If you’ve spent any real time beneath the surface of the internet you’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Don’t feed the Trolls’ and it’s probably the best piece of advice you can get, especially when it comes to social media. For most of us social media is a way to share thoughts, pictures, and stories with the people we care about the most. However, as your online social circle expands to strangers, and you get more followers, the likelihood of interacting with Trolls becomes much higher.
Published 6 February 2023
George started Secret World in October 2021 as their Learning and Engagement Officer and has since been involved in many aspects of the charity. Running educational talks and practical sessions for schools, youth groups and community groups; helping on animal care, fundraising and animal releases to name but a few. George studied Geography at university in Bristol and completed a placement year at an outdoor education centre, teaching primary aged children about the environment and local ecology while improving their resilience and team working skills. After university George worked in several public engagement roles including Bristol Zoo and We the Curious, this led to his role at Secret World.
Wetlands are found across the world, ranging from giant deltas, mighty estuaries and mudflats, to floodplains and peat bogs. Humans and wildlife have relied on them for thousands of years, yet over centuries many have been altered by humans and exploited. For example, between 1970 and 2015, 35% of wetlands were lost to changing land and water use with more than 25% of all wetland plants and animals at risk of extinction.
Have you really considered the environmental cost of those paper leaflets for your visitor site?
I suppose when you take a close look at paper, it’s usually clean and white, and on the face of it wouldn’t strike you as polluting, but it really is. There’s no two ways about it, paper has a horrible environmental footprint, from the chopping down of trees, and all the energy associated with this activity, pulping of wood (more waste including dioxins), then shipping of the pulp to paper mills where paper is made (again extremely environmentally damaging), and then the shipping out of paper to printers, who then process and produce printed materials.
Denise runs the Green Stories project and the aim is to move beyond preaching to the converted to share climate solutions using fiction. A key goal is to encourage writers to create positive visions of what a sustainable society might look like and how we might get there, and we run regular competitions which are free to enter.
"While I’d published widely in the academic realm, I was keen to reach a wider audience so turned to fiction myself as a way to engage more people. My first work of fiction was Habitat Man, published Sept 2021. This was based on a local green garden consultant who gave up his job in IT to help people make their gardens more wildlife friendly."
Millie Sewell works at the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield Surrey
I work closely with a wide range of British mammals, reptiles, and birds providing them with the best care possible enabling them to thrive within captivity. All animals are monitored and cleaned daily to ensure they remain in good health along with being offered fresh food and water. Regular enclosure maintenance is also provided to ensure no repairs are necessary and new enclosures are built and designed in a way that replicates the species natural habitat as closely as possible. Educating visitors and school groups by answering questions and giving regular talks, displays, and tours is a major part of the role as it allows people to form connections encouraging a positive change towards protecting wildlife and their habitats.
The National Association for Environmental Education (NAEE) is the UK’s oldest educational charity which supports schools and teachers to help young people understand the inter-relationship between humans and the rest of nature, and the responsibilities that we have towards the planet. We are aware that many young people who follow environmental courses and qualifications do so with a career in mind, and we welcomed and contributed to the recent House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee investigation into the jobs, skills and training needed to achieve the UK’s longer-term climate and environmental goals.
Bioacoustic monitoring is a burgeoning field in conservation with great potential coming from technological advances. This technique focuses on listening to the natural soundscape and inferring the presence of certain species based on what can be heard. During my PhD project at Bristol University (supported and funded by Rainforest Connection, the Mammal Society, and Huawei) we aim to develop this framework as a monitoring technique for the conservation of red squirrels.
Around 15 years ago Michael was a postman; a very happy postman, because the job (specifically the hours) allowed him to pursue his hobby of being outdoors enjoying nature and wildlife. This all changed one day up on High Street, a Roman mountain pass, in the Lake District, where he was looking for the last golden eagle in England. The heavens opened. Pretty much all the towns and villages were flooded. All the footpaths and tracks down the hill became raging streams. He lost his footing and slipped. He didn’t fall to the ground, merely jolted. It immediately felt like someone had hit him on the back of the neck with a baseball bat.
The need to deliver a robust practical response to the climate, biodiversity and public health crises has never been more pressing. The UN secretary general António Guterres recently warned that the goal of limiting global heating to 1.5C is “gasping for breath”. Alongside this, the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, with more than one in seven native species facing extinction, and more than 40% of species in decline. Many people are now observing these population declines directly in their own communities, as once familiar birds, such as swifts and house martins, are now on the red list for ‘highest conservation concern’.
Sustainability has become a ubiquitous concept in recent years. Applying sustainable principles to pretty much everything from transport to tourism and fashion to food has led to serious rethinks over how, what and why we consume everything from hummus to holidays. But what about communications? At a time of multi-channel media saturation when everyone’s attention span is stretched to breaking point, is there such a thing as too much information? Could over-sharing be counter-productive? How regularly can you post on social media while maintaining quality? Is it realistic to distribute quality content across all platforms, and should you even try?
Over that time, especially the last five or so years, it became apparent from feedback received from our students, that even whilst teaching our HND/Diploma course, that this may still not enough to guarantee launching them into the world of professional wildlife film making. What was proving to be a significant obstacle to them seemed to be the lack of a Broadcast Credit, even for students who had studied a Diploma, Degree or Masters.
Nature is and should be for everyone. Yet we know that access to nature is currently not equal – that 1 in 3 of us don’t have access to accessible nature-rich spaces near our homes, that ethnic minorities are twice as likely to live in nature-poor neighbourhoods, and that our most deprived areas often have no green space at all.
But this isn’t just true of access to nature itself. It’s also true that our nature and environment sector is not the representative and diverse place it should be.
Our Bright Future, a £33 million youth empowerment partnership led by The Wildlife Trusts and funded by The National Lottery Community Fund draws to a close this month (December 2022). The programme brought together 31 projects from the environmental and youth sectors. Projects shared the aim of empowering young people to lead future environmental change and ranged in scale from national to local. Project activities included: involving young people in practical environmental conservation; engaging them in vocational training and work experience; supporting them to develop their own social action campaigns; and helping them to start their own sustainable enterprises.
When I was a boy in the 1960’s the river Yare marshes, and more particularly the Norton marshes which is the area of our family’s interest, were grass. That really illustrated the particular mosaic of mixed family farms that were normal in South Norfolk, but less common in other areas. That primarily is a result of the existence of the low-level grazing marshes and the ‘upland’ or to use the Dutch word ‘Hoyland’ predominantly for arable.
The apples at Henry Tate were being harvested to produce cider as part of our community giveback scheme. This year we harvested over 9 tonnes of apples from across London that would overwise have rotted on the ground and give back either cider, training or cash to the community groups that are stewarding the orchards. Projects like this help bring orchards back to life as well as providing hugely important community benefits, such as increased community connection and improved mental well-being. Orchards also enable people to take positive action in a meaningful and tangible way.
As is true in so many professions, the biggest obstacle to getting your first job as an ecological consultant is a lack of experience. For employers, recruiting at a junior level is not difficult; any advert will give rise to many applicants, a reasonable number of whom will have some relevant experience and enough about them to seem interesting enough to invite for interview. With no shortage of these more experienced junior candidates, delving back to fresh graduates can be difficult to justify in business terms. But as one of those graduates, how do you get the experience when nobody will hire you without it?
Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) is a high profile, visitor hotspot ‐ with over 600,000 people visiting the summit every year – and the numbers are growing. Videos from busy weekends show long queues of people waiting to reach the top of this iconic mountain, while news reports compared the crowds on Yr Wyddfa to ‘a busy train station at rush hour’ (Wales Online, 2019). The increased popularity of Wales’ top tourist attractions brings additional challenges, and the Yr Wyddfa Partnership Plan has identified litter and specifically plastic pollution as one of the key pressures resulting from the high numbers of visitors.
By Lily Harper, Natural History Researcher
The filmmaking industry is perhaps not the first you think of in terms of working with wildlife, but it does a lot for conservation and positive environmental behaviour change. In Bristol, where I live and work, it’s not an easy industry to break into, and getting your foot in the door can take a while. But the beauty of it is that pretty much everybody enters it through their own unique route, and there are no rules or specific qualifications you need to get started.
It is estimated that there are 402,000 km of hedgerows in Britain which are in good condition, with a further 145,000 km in poor condition and 26,000 km which can no longer be classified as hedges because of severe deterioration in their structure. Many of these hedges are found on former mixed farms which have reverted to all-arable production, leaving the hedges as a relic of the previous farming system, but now redundant from their role in containing livestock, yet protected by 1997 Hedgerow Regulations which require landowners to seek consent to remove hedges.
It’s an absolute pleasure to be chosen as CJS’s charity for 2023.
I hardly need to rehearse with this audience the sad facts that almost two thirds of UK species have declined in the past 50 years and one in ten faces the risk of extinction. And that globally, between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct every year. Given what each loss in our ecosystem represents, and our own dependence on biodiversity, the situation can seem overwhelming.
Soil holds the key to our planet’s past and future and is the answer to our food, water and energy security, mitigating and adapting to climate change, the safeguarding of biodiversity, and the protection of human health. With ninety-five percent of global food produced in soils, “it represents the difference between survival and extinction for most land-based life” (Doran, 2002) and guides us, on how to live sustainably in harmony with nature.
The role pesticides play in our lives is often vastly underestimated. Pesticides are present in the majority of our food and in much of our soil and water. They cover the UK’s countryside, reaching far beyond farmland thanks to their continued use in both forestry and conservation. In our towns and cities, they are sprayed on streets, sports pitches and parks without warning. Thanks to this ubiquity, and the fact that many pesticides are highly persistent and mobile, exposure is almost impossible to avoid. While farmers, agricultural workers and others handling pesticides bear the brunt of the risks, we are all exposed to the potentially harmful effects of pesticides on a daily basis, including our much-beleaguered wildlife.
The Barn Owl Trust is based in a beautiful, wooded valley near Ashburton. It was founded by a small group of volunteers in the 1980’s and achieved charitable status in 1988. This small national charity is made up of dedicated staff and volunteers working to stop the rapid decline of Barn Owls in the UK and to try to reduce the pressure put on them from environmental and anthropogenic factors. They work hard to ensure that every penny is spent wisely on practical solutions to the problems that Barn Owls face. Every donation supports owl conservation, education, information and advice, research, training, owl rescue and rehabilitation and a sanctuary for rescued owls.
Seventy years ago, the then Minister for Housing and Local Government (one Harold Macmillan) signed into law the North York Moors National Park (Designation) Order, thus bringing about the creation of the latest in a series of National Parks that were formed in the wake of the Second World War. As we look back over the last 70 years, we can chart deep societal changes. We’re now a significantly larger and more urban population, tuned into technology that was unimaginable in those days that were pre-television, let alone internet. Do our National Parks remain as relevant as they did in the post-war years? Absolutely. We are a population that is increasingly attuned to the impact of climate change and species loss and wants to see landscapes like National Parks work harder for the environment.
The Hadlow Estate has always believed it has a responsibility and role to play in the provision of sustainable clean energy for the local community and could also contribute to the Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and moving away from a reliance on fossil fuels. In 2014, it brought forward a 64-acre, solar park in Capel next to the London-Ashford railway line, in partnership with British Solar Renewables. The land is leased from the Estate by the solar park owners Cubico Sustainable Investments and GLIL Infrastructure, the park has 72,776 panels.
How do young people feel about the way the climate is changing and what are their concerns? Towards the end of the summer term, YPTE helped Ellen Wingrove, a student completing her Masters in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh University with a survey. It asked young people - specifically those aged 10-11 - about their concerns regarding climate change. Did they feel that their voices were being listened to? What did they think they and the adults in their lives were doing to help? A small selection of primary schools from England, Scotland and Wales took part in the survey.
The Rhos Pasture Restoration project is a Sustainable Management Scheme, funded by the Welsh Government through the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The project started in January 2021 and will finish next March 2023. Rhos is a Welsh word meaning ‘moor’ or ‘moorland’ and describes wet marshy grassland. This type of grassland also occurs in other parts of the UK, where it is known by different names: culm grassland in Devon, fen meadow in East Anglia and wet lawns in the New Forest. It is a habitat that is widespread but declining in Wales and is identified in Section 7 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 as a priority grassland habitat that makes up 3% of grassland cover in Powys.
Sparsholt College has been delivering both further and higher education courses in Game and Wildlife, Fisheries and Countryside and Conservation Management for 50 years. In that time, much has changed. New courses have been developed with the aim of reflecting the ever-changing needs of the rural sector and to ensure that students leaving Sparsholt are equipped with the relevant knowledge, skills and abilities that will see them launch successful careers and contribute to the industries they join.
Growing up as a lad, I was fortunate enough to be deeply involved with birds of prey. My father was a falconer and we had various birds at home that I was lucky enough to work with. It was then that I decided to pursue a career working with birds of prey. I began by working at the Hawk Conservancy Trust more than two decades ago and have, of course, never left! From that moment on, I had access to a vast array of species of birds of prey to potentially work with. I gradually started to understand more about all their different traits and specific needs, and I quickly became very fond of falcons.
For over 50 years, Esri has been committed to the conservation of the planet, developing geospatial solutions that help to protect it. Stuart Bonthrone, Managing Director at Esri UK, outlines how GIS (Geographic Information System) software is helping make a difference in countryside and wildlife conservation. From tackling habitat loss and climate change to saving historic buildings and helping wildlife thrive, GIS software is helping conservation experts understand complex challenges and make decisions to better protect the world around us. The National Trust, RSPB, and Natural Resources Wales are just some of the hundreds of organisations Esri UK works hard with to help safeguard our environment for years to come.
Have you heard of forest bathing? No? It’s big in Japan!
This Japanese practice is an evidence-based process of relaxation; known in Japanese as “shinrin yoku.”
The simple method of being calm and quiet, amongst the trees, observing nature around you, has repeatedly shown its potential to improve mental health and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. We are animals, and being part of nature, taking a moment to take notice what’s around us, can really benefit our mental and physical health.
My role is to identify projects where captive animals can be released back into the wild and fulfil a conservation need while providing a high standard of welfare for the individual. Preparation of project infrastructure and animals themselves for rewilding to ensure their survival
We all know that walking is good for us, we are bombarded with information about its benefits to our body and mental wellbeing, all of which are true but still aren’t enough to overcome the barriers which prevent a lot of people from doing it on a regular basis. It is also a truth that the Derbyshire Dales is one of the most beautiful places in the country and is accessible to a massive swathe of the country for a day walk. But what does accessible really mean?
What if every young person had the opportunity to spend a year doing paid environmental work? What difference would that make to their lives? What connections could they create, skills could they build, and mindsets could be shaped? What could they go on to do for the sector and for our planet?
The Youth Environmental Service (YES) is a new programme aiming to do just that.
My name is Hattie Gillespie. I have always had a keen interest in nature and the outdoors, this led me to participating as an Education Volunteer for the Broads Authority while I was in college. This opportunity helped me to develop a passion for protecting the environment along with strengthening my determination (commuting for nearly two hours via buses). I then went on to study Environmental Conservation at Bangor University, in which I took a placement year to work for the National Trust in Northern Ireland. At the time I contacted multiple companies and organisations, which took a lot of courage as I wouldn’t particularly call myself a people person, but through perseverance and asking a lot of questions I was able to identify and play to my strengths.
A consortium of leading environmental organisations in the North of England has joined forces to support the delivery of nature recovery at a strategic scale. This is the first known initiative of its kind in the UK working at this magnitude. The natural environment in the North of England is unique in terms of diversity, beauty, scale and value. Nature North aims to secure a thriving environment across Northern England, with nature acknowledged by policymakers, the public and businesses as key to the prosperity, wellbeing and resilience of communities in the North.
Being blind doesn't mean I don't enjoy nature as much as the next person. In fact, not being in a position to appreciate the stunning visuals of all those spectacular television documentaries we can consume without moving from the couch, I value much more highly the richer sensory experience of actually ‘seeing’ nature first hand - if you see what I mean.
It is clear that organisations in the environment sector want to increase the diversity of their workforce, but many are unsure how to achieve it. Staff from minority ethnic backgrounds make up just 3.1% of the environment sector workforce and the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on young people’s employment prospects has further widened existing skills gaps and shortages in the UK.
Gail Atkinson, Forest Research scientist, explains how researchers are trialling innovative ways to better prepare our woodlands for climate change.
Our climate is changing, and this is affecting our trees, woodlands and forests. If UK woodlands are to thrive in future, we need to take action to enable them to adapt to the future climate. This involves identifying and testing suitable measures, monitoring changes and sharing insights. If we get this right, they will be better able to continue to deliver a wide range of benefits and products.
Antony Geddes, Associate Landscape Manager at TEP, reflects on his career path in the landscape profession.
Working as a professional in the landscape industry is dynamic and very rewarding, but moving on and up is no walk in the park (well, sometimes it is!).
The Landscape Architecture profession combines many different practices but focuses on designing, planning and managing external environments, blending art with natural sciences and social sciences. It is not a well-known profession outside of the construction industry and often the work of a landscape architect might be mistakenly captured under that of others, such as architects and engineers. However, working in the landscape and understanding the principles of using living materials requires a specific knowledge and skillset to deliver a great project and manage clients’ expectations.
Imagine the Lake District four or five times busier than it is now. Consider the effect of having up to five times more vehicles on the roads, with their drivers seeking parking places; more walkers widening existing trails and creating unofficial new ones, while greater numbers of bicycles and horses criss-cross some of Britain’s finest countryside. The resulting debate, both vociferous and anxious, would be familiar to us all: is it possible for increasing numbers of people to use our protected open spaces without damaging them, or even changing them irreversibly?
Published 17 October 2022
An opinion piece by Hanna Rennie, Conservation Officer/Countryside Ranger
I began my career in Countryside Management in 2018. Between September and December 2021, I applied for 16 jobs and was offered 15 interviews - 9 of them I really wanted and thought I could get...but wasn’t successful; 5 of them I really didn’t want and hoped I didn’t get...and wasn’t successful; 1 of them I really wanted but didn’t think I would get…and was successful!
How many of us recognise the importance of ‘vetting’ potential employers? Do you consider it an important element of job seeking? In my early days of job hunting, I simply applied for any job that was advertised, regardless of work pattern, conditions, location, or pay - I was just happy for the opportunity of even an interview.
The British Mycological Society was founded over 125 years ago to promote the scientific study of fungi and has since grown to be one of the major mycological societies in the world, committed to promoting cutting-edge scientific research, fungal conservation and species recording and the provision of educational resources. As a charity and membership body, it is open to all who are interested in supporting, promoting and studying the diverse and fascinating fungal kingdom.
Countryside Classroom is a fantastic site that contains more than a thousand pieces of content across three areas: resources, places to visit and school support for teachers of all ages. Countryside Classroom partners, of which there are over thirty, work together to inspire and enable teachers to use food, farming and the natural environment more often, in and out of the classroom. In addition to having a wealth of quality assured educational content from hundreds of contributors the partnership is excited to soon launch their new Farm Visits page.
Congratulations! You have been selected to attend an interview. Now, if this is your first ecology related interview, or even if you have attended multiple, then you may be asking yourself “what can you expect during the interview process and from an interview panel?”
Well, before we start talking about the likely questions you may get asked, let us take it back to the invitation to interview letter. Make sure you read this and then re-read it! As well as the date, time, and venue, what other pieces of information are included? Is there anything specific you need to either take with you or prepare for? Do you have to email or write back confirming a suitable time or that you are going to attend? It is going to be embarrassing than turning up for an interview only to find out that you forgot to accept the invite and that the provisional time allocated to you has been given to another candidate. Awkward!
The Initiative for Nature Conservation Cymru (INCC) was founded in 2018 as a charitable incorporated organisation. Our vision is of ‘a Wales with more wildlife in more places, created by a society that intrinsically values the natural world’.
INCC was formed in response to the growing need for a truly independent nature conservation organisation for Wales. An organisation that was able to speak out and challenge environmental decision makers to do more for wildlife. Prior to its formation as a charity, INCC trustees consulted with a wide variety of academics, volunteers and practitioners working in the nature conservation sector. The question asked was - where are the gaps in nature conservation and how could a new organisation fill them?
The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has launched two new undergraduate scholarships to attract and reward the brightest applicants from the UK’s under-represented minority ethnic communities.
The awards, which are for both full and part time students, are each worth £9,000 a year for a maximum of three years. These new scholarships are open to UK students from under-represented minority ethnic communities who have a place on one of the University’s undergraduate programmes to start in September 2023.
I’m sure there’s no such thing as an easy career path, but from the offset I was very much aware that working in conservation wasn’t one. Being hugely competitive, with so many qualified and passionate people in the field, it can be incredibly difficult to ‘get your foot in the door’. For that reason, I have tried to gather as much, varied experience as I can to not only expand my skillset but navigate which roles are better suited to me. It might have made my life schedule very hectic over the past few years, but I hope it will pay off in the long run.
Hare Coursing is an activity where two sighthound dogs (typically Lurcher/Saluki type breeds) are released at the same time, in pursuit of a hare across large, flat, open fields.
For hundreds of years it was a legal sport, and remains so in the Republic of Ireland, but in the UK it was banned by the Hunting Act 2004.
There are variations of how Coursing is run, as the sighthounds are much larger and less agile, they find it difficult to follow the hares' sharp turns made in an effort to evade the dogs. This agility gives the hare an advantage as it seeks to escape, and some Coursing will “score” the number of times a hare can be turned, as well as whether a dog catches the hare.
Taking a deep breath (remembering to exhale) I find it hard to believe I have now been a Countryside ranger for over 3 years!
Graduating from Plumpton June 2019, I was accepted for a maternity cover role with WSCC for 1 year, then onto a permanent part time role in 2020. Now I am a full time Countywide Ranger with 3 (plus) sites to manage across West Sussex.
Wow! Say wow with me ……. Because, although it’s been a long difficult road, it is achievable with the right attitude and training.
Volunteering is fun, exciting, and sometimes life changing. People volunteer for a variety of reasons including health, physical fitness and wanting to change career. A career in conservation is a dream for most people, looking to work with wildlife, in the outdoors, actively helping species and habitat protection and recovery and inspiring and engaging with people from diverse communities. Volunteering is often a useful way of gaining experience to get a foot on the environmental career ladder. Volunteering enabled me to transfer from the health to the environment sector and to start a career again after eight years out of the workplace. I have been a volunteer, employee and sat on interview panels for Dorset Wildlife Trust so what volunteering experiences do employers rate?
Plants are fundamental to our landscapes, underpin many of our rural industries and recreational activities, and are the building blocks of our habitats. However, we are experiencing an exponential increase in non-native plant pests and pathogens due to increased global trade and climate change which are causing substantial economic losses. There is growing awareness of the damage plant pests can do within the agricultural, horticultural and forestry industries. What is less commonly considered is the impact non-native plant pests and pathogens can have on the natural environment.
Traditional field boundaries are a familiar feature of our landscape – there are over 300,000 miles of hedgerow and 120,000 miles of dry stone wall criss-crossing the British countryside. Sadly, the skills required to look after these boundaries are in decline, and fewer people are training to a professional level to maintain them. The Rural Skills Hub, a joint project between the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) and the National Hedgelaying Society (NHLS), was launched in November 2021. The project aims to help people start a career involving traditional boundary crafts, through providing financial support, training, and employability advice.
…To be an outdoor access or rights of way officer. It’s a fascinating job. You will meet lots of characters, visit new places and learn about the history of the routes you walk every day.
It’s very multidisciplinary in nature and what you will be doing on a daily basis will depend upon where you are in the country. You could be part of a team where each person looks after a different aspect of outdoor access or you may be the entire team. You could be looking after greenspace areas or processing planning applications. There’s also a fair chance you’ll be managing outdoor access from your desk rather than the footpath!
Collecting data to monitor species is invaluable for showing population trends which, for priority species, invariably means relentless declines. Connecting that data to people that have the potential to make a difference to those priority species, motivating change and highlighting and promoting success would seem an obvious necessity to reverse these declines. The charity Redlist Revival set out to create The Life Map where monitoring data for birds became accessible, understandable and usable. This process for England has resulted in The Life Map becoming a key stakeholder in the United Nations Action Plan for a Sustainable Planet in the Digital Age.
A call for better. Our world faces emergencies in climate change, diet related ill-health and widespread decline in wildlife. But the future doesn’t have to be daunting - changing our food systems and growing, eating & living in balance with nature is possible
Organic September is a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the many benefits that organic food and farming can bring
With ambitious plans to halt the decline of nature, improve access to the places we care for, and reach carbon net zero by 2030 – now is an exciting time to join the National Trust. People are at the heart of everything we do, and our countryside and outdoor spaces are expertly cared for by teams of dedicated staff and volunteers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our roles are as diverse as the places we look after, and can include gardeners, foresters, countryside managers, rangers, tree and woodland advisors, farm workers and apprentices – and in all kinds of locations, from parks and formal gardens to islands and mountains.
The impacts of July’s record-breaking temperatures and wildfires in the UK will not have been felt much more keenly than by those in environmental roles.
As 40-degree heat scorched parts of the country, wildlife and countryside professionals faced the unenviable task of mitigating the damage to parks, habitats and biodiversity, and of counting the inevitable costs.
I have arrived at my current role as a Conservation Officer at Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust after a few twists and turns along the way. Most recently I have worked on the LoveLincsPlants herbarium project which was a four-year partnership project with the Natural History Museum in London and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. I firmly believe that all of my previous work and voluntary experiences played a part in developing the skills needed for this role and my current work.
I am very fortunate. I work for the National Trust, who are a very good employer, and I look after the area where I grew up and have lived my whole life. From the heathlands and woodlands of Leith Hill to the chalk grasslands of Denbies Hillside and the ancient woodlands of Bookham Commons. I have a fantastic job, working with some great people. I also have a wife and two teenaged kids who take up a fair bit of time and always have. As well as a smallholding with cows, goats, pigs, ducks, horses etc. etc. and an acre of walled vegetable garden. My reason for saying this is not to gloat, but rather to give you an idea that I am a tiny bit busy and that flexibility in my job is vital to my work/life balance.
With progress things are going to be built, it is inevitable, but if development can intelligently build in biodiversity - as a consideration from the outset and include in the planning stage then we might be onto a winner. National Highways is a government-owned company charged with operating, maintaining and improving motorways and major A roads in England which is otherwise known as the Strategic Road Network (the SRN).
By Claudia Smith, Countryside Ranger, Denbighshire Countryside Service
I’m a Countryside Ranger, working for Denbighshire County Council’s Countryside team in the north of the county. My role involves the practical management of our 43 Countryside Sites in a variety of habitats, including woodland, wetland and sand dune, as well as allotments. Throughout my time at Denbighshire, I’ve been working on the Nature for Health project, which encourages local people to get outdoors and enjoy the countryside on their doorstep through volunteering opportunities.
Rewilding seems to be a buzz word for conservationists at the moment, for those in favour and those against. However, the benefits of landscape scale management and connectivity of habitats that are resulting from rewilding seem to be common ambitions for conservation organisations abandoning the traditional intensive habitat management to maintain populations of less abundance species in increasingly isolated pockets. Projects such as the Tauros genetic manipulation and introduction project by Rewilding Europe are working towards having large roaming grazers as part of their habitat restoration and connection.
Countryside Classroom works with partners to produce the very best curriculum linked resources covering a range of issues relating to healthy eating and sustainability. One popular resource aimed at Primary school aged children is an activity booklet called the Countryside Classroom Passport. The Countryside Classroom Passport has three exciting sections with a range of challenges asking children to find out, write, make, draw, do, and visit, all encouraging students to discover topical issues relating to food, farming and the natural environment. Each successfully completed task has a corresponding badge on the score card. Once completed, booklets can be emailed in to receive an e-certificate.
I am responsible for all aspects of the Islands PROW network including but not limited to, investigating disputed paths, investigating calls for presumed dedications, liaising with land owners wishing to dedicate PROW, liaising with landowners to resolve disputes, progressing and guiding a small team with PROW orders to effect changes to the definitive map or statement. I am also responsible for a small maintenance team of 8 ensuring that the Islands PROW maintenance is kept up to date and any works are carried out.
During the past decades there has been growing concern about the ecological impacts of plastic waste, however, this has not ceased plastic production. In 2019 alone, global production reached a staggering 370 MT, with Europe being responsible for almost 57.9 MT. Our understanding of how microplastic (<1mm) and mesoplastic (1 - <10mm) pollution in aquatic systems has been extensively researched in recent years, however, the same cannot be said for their terrestrial counterparts.
Chris Jones, Historic Environment Officer at Northumberland National Park Authority
The UK’s National Parks are all distinctive places and all have been shaped by the interaction between people and the natural world over thousands of years. Working in a National Park you see evidence of this relationship everywhere. This includes evidence for farming, fields and forests and in more recent centuries of mining, quarrying and industrial processing.
All National Parks are different and contain a wealth of archaeology, built and cultural heritage. Northumberland is a border county, a land of hillforts, farms and fields from when people first lived in the hills and valleys, long before the Romans made it the northern frontier of their vast Empire.
In an effort to advise budding ecologists with enhancing their chances of securing employment in the ecological consultancy sector, Robert Oates – Managing Director of Arbtech – has offered insight into the fundamental factors that make an ecologist more appetising to potential employers. Arbtech are the UK’s number 1 experts on arboriculture, biodiversity and ecology, and following over a decade of providing a selection of services to clients across the country, the consultancy has grown to more than 30 surveyors, developing a positive yet effective company culture in the process.
In winter 1964 walkers getting lost or injured on the increasingly popular Lyke Wake Walk prompted discussion over actions needed to improve the safety of those walking across the tops of the National Park. The result was the formation of Scarborough and District Search and Rescue Team in July of 1965 with twelve volunteers. Deploying to help outdoor enthusiasts continues but has diversified from just hill walkers to include mountain bikers, horse riders and people simply enjoying the great outdoors when something goes wrong. Increasingly though the Police and other statutory blue light services use us to help find those with mental health issues and missing from home, be that suffering from the likes of Dementia, Alzheimer’s or those intent to self-harm or worse.
This last winter was dry, one of the driest I’ve known, consequently the water table was low as we entered spring. A dry spring and now an incredibly hot and dry summer with no rain on the horizon. We’ve been using our water carefully since earlier in the year and are now restricting the water we use and saving any we wash with to put on the vegetable patch or else the peas and beans are never going to swell.
It's something I'm sure we've all heard: Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. But perhaps the caveat to this often repeated phrase is something you've not previously encountered: But you'll never have a day off. After the upheaval of the last couple of years many people are looking again at what they want from life and even before the pandemic there was much talk of work-life balance. The words 'burn out' were being heard more frequently as it became more apparent that everyone needs a break from day-to-day working life and that includes even your most passionate worker, indeed perhaps especially those so passionate about their job they work 24/7.
Have you ever found yourself wondering how our landscape was created, how the field patterns and the hedgerows came about or what the Barn Owl actually tells us about change in our landscape and farming practices?
Whilst on the face of it these are very general questions; they lie at the heart of archaeology. So, what is archaeology? Well for me it is about who we are today and not necessarily all about the past. It is the way we ask questions about the things we see around us, the things which define and shape us today.
Lone workers face all the same hazards as someone working in a team, but the risk is enhanced, not least because there is no immediate help or support in managing issues as they arise. The HSE defines a lone worker as: ‘someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision’. In conservation, we generally consider the team members who are out surveying or delivering practical work to be our lone workers, but there are other activities which also need to be considered, such as working alone at the office/base/tool store (including out of hours working) and home and remote workers.
Apprenticeships are an exciting opportunity for people of all ages, backgrounds and experience to learn on the job through hands-on experience. Since the new apprenticeships standard went live here at the National Trust, we have been working hard to utilise the new routes available across the organisation. Since spring 2020 we have created 48 opportunities and counting, for people to gain the knowledge and skills to start or progress their career in countryside management.
An opinion piece by Matt Harris
It’s a question I find myself asking more and more frequently when searching through conservation and countryside management jobs. Since when were PA1/6 and Tractor tickets entry level requirements to get a ranger job? When did this change happen? I’ve only been in this sector for six years and even I remember posts asking for enthusiasm, some volunteer experience and maybe a strimmer and brushcutter ticket - when did a full suite of machinery tickets, 5+ years in the sector, volunteer management experience and a BSc become the benchmark for a barely above minimum wage, entry level role?
From the first Earth Day in 1970 to Earth’s atmosphere exceeding 400 parts per million of CO₂ for the first time in human history in 2017, we tend to measure the climate crisis in milestones. And the milestones keep flying by. Last month, the Met Office announced the chance of breaching the 1.5C turning point on global heating in the next five years is now 50-50.
Dog owners are passionate about the feel-good health benefits daily dog walking provides for human and canine alike.
More than ever, Covid-19 showed their tenacity in getting outside with their pets, despite threats of fixed penalty notices and being stalked by Police drones.
But how best do we as countryside professionals respond to that passion, compounded by the Covid-induced 40% increase in dog ownership?
The 2 Minute Foundation have been pioneering approaches to changing mindsets towards plastic waste since they launched the hashtag #2MinuteBeachClean in 2013. Their innovative 2 Minute Beach Clean and Litter Pick stations are now in over 1000 locations across the UK and have inspired thousands of people to pick up litter. Now the charity’s new Marine Plastic stations, made from plastic waste found on beaches, are starting conversations about how to reduce what we use.
Casey-Jo Zammit works for the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust on the Isle of Gigha, off the west coast of Scotland
The job involves many things including monitoring and surveying wildlife: pollinators, cetaceans, bats, birds, wildflowers; developing low carbon initiatives (e.g. e-bike schemes, community zero carbon group); improving habitats for wildlife through woodland and reedbed management & working to improve visitor experience, whilst promoting on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
British Adventurer Holly Budge launches World Female Ranger Week (June 23 - 30th, 2022) to amplify the impact of female wildlife rangers on a global stage.
This ground-breaking global awareness week, spearheaded by international NGO, How Many Elephants, celebrates and supports female wildlife rangers - They're bold, changing the game and paving the way for women to stand alongside men at the forefront of conservation, but they need allies.
Teaching a variety of subjects across the land-based sector at levels 2, 3 and access to higher education. Course tutor for the level 2 land and wildlife management group which involves interviewing and enrolling students, organising the course throughout the year and communicating with parents where necessary. Communication with employers in the industry and organising any trips or talks from relevant organisations. One of the most important parts of my job role is to build rapport with students and ensure a safe environment for their learning and development.
An opinion piece written especially for CJS
Hannah began work as a ranger in 2006, specialising in environmental education from 2011 onwards. She has two children.
For a long time, most of my career in fact, I didn’t really see that there was that much of a gender imbalance in conservation employment. When I was a ranger, I knew loads of female rangers and ecologists! When I began work in environmental education for a large wildlife trust, the whole education team was female! As I got older, I realised that these people were nearly all the same – young, and child free.
In April 2021 I made the decision to leave my job in the law sector in order to devote my time to volunteering and gaining practical skills that would hopefully lead me to a career in forestry. At this point in time, I was in the first (of three) year of studying for a distance learning Forestry MSc with Bangor University. This course has given me a wealth of knowledge to take forward into my forestry career, but I knew, as many job hunters will discover themselves, that practical skills were just as sought after as academic skills in the world of conservation.
An opinion piece by Alister Harman, Park Ranger
I truly adore what I do. Weaving all those threads of nature to create something special for wildlife, the climate and people is a magical process. It’s an art, science and craft that, like many, took a great deal of blood, sweat and tears to achieve such necessary skills. Like anyone else I expected to be judged on my merits and passion at any interview I went for. Yet, while I’m a capable Ranger and human being I’m also Autistic-Dyslexic, which in translation means no matter the wisdom and experience I’ve garnered, I’m frequently judged for my non-conformity first and capability second, as is the case for many like myself.
Conservation is an increasingly competitive field to enter, especially when preserving wildlife and natural resources is so topical and urgent. Environmental concerns are taking centre stage in Government policies across the globe and pledges made at the much-anticipated COP26 in 2021 included the conservation of forests and terrestrial ecosystems. Due to the extent of the work needed in this area, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities available.