Employer: Ecological Consultancy
Location: Construction Sites/ Roadworks/ HS2/ potential construction sites
I have quite a diverse range of responsibilities such as providing ECoW (ecological clerk of works), admin/organising kit for surveys, carry out surveys myself (mainly Invasive non native species surveys, bat surveys and great crested newt surverys), make GIS maps to accompany reports and report writing itself.
Majority of time is spent on Ecological Clerk of works.
Time is spent both indoors and outdoors, Outdoors in the summer (even in the rain!), indoors in the winter.
Yes, the summer consists of a lot more survey work- naturally. You can barely be at home sometimes, staying away weeks at a time dependent on where the work is. In the winter there is a lot more admin work and catching up on paperwork, CPD etc that you’ve let get on top of you during the summer. I also spend a lot of my winter applying for tenders for the company.
A lot of consultancies expect at least a degree level (which I have) however my company have started taking on people who have lots of experience volunteering etc because they believe that these people should have a chance too.
Driving licence is essential (and usually your own car).
Just keeping on top of CPD and volunteering a lot on top of work if you’re wanting to get any protected species licences.
Being able to put up with a bit of rain whilst working (it isn’t always sunny!); good skills to communicate with the general public when you come across them; competent at technology on a range of devices.
Advice to anyone looking at similar roles
I’ve only been in the role for 2 years, as I landed it straight after graduating and it really was my dream job that I wanted whilst I was at university. I do absolutely love it but it does have some major downsides. However like everything it has its major positives too!
The company I work for really does push for the family vibe, and I always feel cared for and valued. CPD is a big value to the company and it’s never questioned if there is something you want to achieve. Ecology as a whole is also like a big extended family- it’s funny how many sites you can walk on and come across an ecologist whom you worked on a job with a year ago! The Ecology world really is a small and very supportive one J
You can also spend a lot of time away from home which can have a major toll on your relationships, I luckily have a wonderful partner, who really doesn’t mind me being away as much as I am as he knows I love what I do but not everyone is the same and not everyone can cut it/be able to be away for weeks on end either.
You also have to remember that Ecological Consultancy is also not specifically conservation. I went into it thinking there would be more time spent working towards conservation efforts and feeling like I was making a good change. I quickly learnt that that wasn’t the case, I do however appreciate that the sites I go onto I am making a difference because I know I am doing things properly and effectively and if I wasn’t there, there could be the chance of someone less effective being there and causing more of an impact to the biodiversity of the site or no one being there!
With working in consultancy a lot of the public do not agree with what you’re doing because they see us as ‘enablers’. On sites you work to the law and not the public opinion, usually. Having worked on ecological clerk of works I have had quite a few horrible days and ECoW comes as part of the job nowadays. The public forget that you probably personally don’t agree with what is happening but are there to make sure the site complies with laws and help to mitigate the effects. The onsite ecologist is the first person they usually ask for to question and throw abuse at. I really have had a few days that I can pinpoint in my mind where I have left site feeling deflated and questioning my career, however I had the same when I was in retail. My company is always there for me on these days too, and there is always someone I can talk to.
You need a thick skin and confidence to work in Ecological Consultancy. (Especially as a small young woman telling (mainly) men on construction sites what to do!)
I know I have spoken a lot about the negatives of consultancy but there are lots of positives to the job too, you just don’t realise until you come upon them, I feel like they’re individual moments to different people. Overall the positives outweigh the negatives and the job is so worth it.
There is just something about getting up and seeing the sunrise and watching a bat return home!
Or pulling a bottle trap smoothly out of the water to be rewarded by multiples of newts swimming around flashing their tails!
Or finally being able to key out that one plant which has been driving you insane every time you walk past it!
It’s the little things that make the job wonderful.
If you have any questions about being an ecologist please Ask CJS.