Local Government and Statutory Agencies

Many departments and agencies of central and local government have responsibilities to promote or have regard to the conservation of wildlife, habitats and landscape quality e.g. Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, Defra, Environment Agency, and so they need staff who have sound knowledge of ecological practice.

Employment opportunities in the public sector have been created through European Union environmental policies in the Government’s agri-environment programme, which includes schemes to enhance the wildlife value of agricultural land. The UK accepted the resolutions from the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which called for sustainable development, the maintenance of biodiversity and a reduction in emissions to the atmosphere. Resolutions from Rio are being implemented both at the national level and by local authorities.

The Work

Both permanent and short-term contract work is offered by some organisations. A single job, such as that of an area officer in a statutory nature conservation agency, may involve a wide variety of activities (see Rooting for a Career in Ecology or Environmental Management for more in depth career profiles).

The Employers

Government departments and agencies are frequently reorganised, but the major employers at present include:

National agencies with a statutory remit for wildlife and landscape conservation:

  • Natural England
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Northern Ireland Environment Agency
  • The Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Other Government agencies:

  • The Environment Agency
  • The Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • The Forestry Commission
  • Forest Enterprise and British Waterways
  • Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
  • Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

Government funded research institutes (also see ‘Science and Research’ section):

  • Museums, including the Natural History Museum in London and national museums e.g. Edinburgh, Cardiff etc.
  • Botanic gardens, including the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Edinburgh, and the National Botanic Garden of Wales
  • Government Departments such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • Local authority planning, environment, and leisure and recreation departments
  • National Park Authorities