The role of water conservation officers emerged as a result of concern for the vulnerability of wetland areas.
Their expertise is called upon to assess the environmental impact on wildlife of proposed building, drainage and flood defence work.
Typical responsibilities of the job include:
- visiting and monitoring sites
- providing advice about how to protect habitats
- setting up field surveys
- undertaking wildlife observation and species surveys
- liaising and negotiating with clients, regulatory authorities, wildlife groups and other professionals such as engineers, planners and surveyors
- promoting environmental conservation via awareness events such as talks, workshops and guided walks
- helping with volunteer activities and conservation projects
- advising about possible solutions
- keeping up to date with changes in legislation/EU directives
- Regulatory bodies
- The Environment Agency
- The Scottish Environment Protection Agency
- Local authority environmental health departments
- English Nature
- Scottish Natural Heritage
- Environmental and conservation organisations
- The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts
Other employers include research establishments, consultancies and water utility companies.
Opportunities are advertised in publications such as New Scientist, Opportunities and The Environment Post as well as their online equivalents. Many jobs receive little advertising so networking, job shadowing and speculative applications are advisable. Directories such as ENDS Environmental Consultants Directory and Who’s Who in the Water Industry may be useful for contact information for speculative applications.
It is normally necessary to have a degree to become a water conservation officer.
An appropriate degree or HND in a subject like biology, geography, chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology or environmental sciences is generally required. Postgraduate qualifications can also be useful – particularly for graduates without relevant first degrees.
It is important to have relevant work experience. There is a high level of competition in this sector, so volunteer work/placements are strongly advised. This could include volunteering with the National Trust or with local conservation projects.
For most positions it is necessary to hold a full driving licence, as field work may take place in remote areas.
- Computer literacy
- Analytical skills
- Problem solving skills
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
Employers prefer candidates who can demonstrate a genuine knowledge of and interest in wetlands, wildlife and/or conservation.