conservation Officer

How to become conservation Officer

What does a conservation officer do?

Countryside/conservation officers are involved in the management, protection and enhancement of the local environment. If you love the outdoors and want a job where you're actively working to protect the environment so others can enjoy it, this may be the job for you. The work is varied, and can cover the following areas.

Landscape conservation, which may include:

  • implementing schemes to conserve existing features, restore degraded landscapes or create new landscapes
  • environmental impact assessments and field surveys
  • promoting national and local initiatives
  • advising farmers, landowners and developers.

Nature conservation, which may include:

  • implementing schemes for the management, protection and creation of habitats
  • developing and implementing local action plans as part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan
  • advising farmers, landowners, and the public.

Access to the countryside, which may include:

  • promoting rights of way through publications and guided walks
  • ensuring designated routes are adequately maintained and marked
  • developing areas to attract visitors
  • dealing with issues such as applications to divert rights of way
  • developing access routes, such as cycle paths and routes suitable for pushchair and wheelchair users.

Community involvement, interpretation and education, which may include:

  • organising/supporting activities and projects to encourage community participation
  • organising, training and supporting volunteers and/or paid staff
  • promoting conservation issues through talks, displays, workshops and literature
  • encouraging schools to take part in 'environmental interpretation' – pond-dipping, tree identification walks etc.

The work also involves maintaining detailed records, analysing data, writing information leaflets and press releases, preparing applications for funding or assessing applications for funding from other organisations.


What's the working environment like for a conservation officer?

Countryside/conservation officers typically work 37.5 hours a week. This often includes making early starts or attending evening meetings. It may be necessary to work some weekends and public holidays. Temporary and seasonal work is often available.

Although the work is office-based, a lot of time may be spent working outside in all weathers. Officers spend time travelling to meetings and to sites, so a driving licence is usually required.


What does it take to become a conservation officer?

To work as a countryside/conservation officer you should:

  • have an interest and enthusiasm for the countryside and conservation issues
  • be confident and assertive
  • be able to work on your own initiative and as part of a team
  • be capable of making technical and scientific issues clear to a variety of people, both verbally and in writing
  • be able to communicate effectively with individuals and with groups, through talks, presentations and meetings
  • be tactful and diplomatic
  • have good IT skills.

People with a relevant HND are able to enter this sector, however competition is fierce so graduates are usually preferred.

Conservation officer career opportunities

Opportunities exist with local government, government agencies such as English Nature and the Countryside Agency, with charitable trusts such as the National Trust and the Woodland Trust and with environmental consultancies. Competition for jobs is high.

With experience and further qualifications it may be possible to progress to become a senior officer or countryside manager.

There may be opportunities to work overseas for national government and conservation organisations. Some officers move into lecturing, teaching or journalism.


Further information

If you would like to know anything about becoming a conservation ifficer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Field Studies Council
Montford Bridge
Preston Montford
Tel: 0845 345 4071

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers
Conservation Centre
163 Balby Road
South Yorkshire
Tel: 01302 572 244

Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland
Beech House
159 Ravenhill Road
Tel: 028 9064 5169

Lantra House
Tel: 0845 707 8007

Lantra career advice sites:

The Wildlife Trusts

National Trust

Groundwork UK

Woodland Trust

Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM)
45 Southgate Street
SO23 9EH
Tel: 01962 868626

Countryside Agency
John Dower House
Crescent Place
GL50 3RA
Tel: 01242 521381

English Nature
Northminster House
Tel: 01733 455000


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