What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£30,001 – £40,000
Please describe the work that you do.
I set up and deliver green infrastructure projects in an area of development growth just east of Exeter, Devon. I’m leading the creation of the Clyst Valley Regional Park, a nature-rich area of green/blue space that is half the size of Exeter. Recently I secured funding to pursue an ambitious target for 30% tree cover in the river catchment.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
It’s mostly pro-active, and very varied. I can be leading a public walk one day, writing a funding bid the next. At the moment I’m writing an implementation plan for 10 hectares of land we’re buying which I hope will become a haven for nature and people.
Dislikes? I don’t much care for detailed responses to planning applications, though they’re essential. I have days of dismay, when landowners fell beautiful old oak trees on a whim, as they did recently!
What inspired you into this career?
I started out with English Nature, up in Northumberland. The warden of Rostherne Mere NNR, Cheshire, and the birders that gathered there were an inspiration in my teenage years, so also members of the Manchester Ornithological Society. My dad took me on countryside walks, and I remember vividly my first sighting of a dipper and barn owl in the snows above Macclesfield.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
I had a set back mid-career going for a team management job with English Nature. I didn’t even pass the interview board. It rocked me, but I picked myself up and sought a career review. Soon afterwards, I received a gold staff award for my work on Dartmoor with commoners. As Sir Alex Ferguson said once, it’s not defeat that matters, but how you recover. I am presently giving and receiving mentoring through CIEEM’s excellent programme. I recommend!
What education/training did you have?
I wanted to be a vet but, not getting the grades at A-level, went off to secure a BSc Hons degree in Agriculture from Nottingham University. Afterwards, I got an MSc in Rural Resource Management from Bangor University. That was a lovely year, including trips to Scotland with the Bangor Bird Group! My thesis, on birds of the Welsh ‘ffridd’, tutored by the monitoring ecologist from CCW, was a passport to my first job.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Join lots of varied training courses and then hone your skills through practice in your spare time. My first job was a bit of luck – English Nature wanted somebody to write management plans for SSSI on the MoD land in Northumberland. I’d recently written such plans during my MSc training. It was the foot in the door I needed! Negotiating and influencing skills, getting on with others, these are more important than your technical skills, and can be developed outside conservation circles.