Skip to content
Jan 31 / BARD CEP

Volunteer County Wildlife Site Trainees-England

Organization: Devon Wildlife Trust

Position Title: Volunteer County Wildlife Site Trainees

Location: England ( South West)

Hours & Compensation: Full Time.Voluntary & Interns

Application Deadline: 17/02/2014

Devon Biodiversity Record Centre (DBRC) will be hosting two long-term volunteer trainee placements in 2014. These placements will provide motivated individuals with an opportunity to gain experience in habitat survey, botanical ID, landowner liaison, ecological report writing, data management and GIS (MapInfo). The DBRC trainee scheme has run since 2011 and we have successfully trained five individuals who have all subsequently gained paid employment in the ecology/conservation sector. The trainee placements will be centred around DBRC’s County Wildlife Site (CWS) monitoring project, which will be entering its sixth year in 2014. There are approximately 2,200 County Wildlife Sites (CWS) in Devon supporting an array of habitats and species.  The trainees will therefore have the opportunity to become familiar with many of Devon’s most significant wildlife habitats.  This role is highly suitable to individuals who wish to work in the ecology and conservation sector, and want to increase their expertise and field experience.  DBRC is the central repository for species, habitat and geological data within the county. It values and supports the recording community whilst working closely with stakeholders, clients and the wider public. DBRC is run on a ‘not for profit’ basis with income from Key Partners, Projects and Commercial Services. Our mission is to ensure biodiversity can be measured, recorded and therefore protected for everyone’s future benefit. DBRC is hosted by Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT).

For information about County Wildlife Sites and their purpose, go to or request a leaflet.

County Wildlife Sites are important habitats at the county scale, providing vital stepping stone sites for a wide range of species. With over 20 years of survey data at our fingertips, DBRC can now target our efforts on monitoring, assessing condition, detecting loss and ensuring the availability of sound data to enable protection of these sites through the statutory planning system. We believe that CWS form a key part of Devon’s biodiversity value and that the owners of such sites should have access to good conservation management knowledge. CWS are located across the county and are often privately owned. Whilst advice to landowners is available within protected landscapes, (i.e. National Parks and some AONB’s), or within areas targeted by specific projects, i.e.  DWT’s Working Wetlands Project in North Devon, DWT and DBRC feel strongly that this kind of support should be widely available to landowners across the county. The trainee volunteers will therefore help increase the capacity of survey work directly delivered by DBRC.

What the task involves:

The post is a 6-12 month unpaid structured training placement.

The volunteers will be based at the DBRC office, though will spend much of their time in the field. Initially, volunteers will shadow DBRC staff and then gradually take on more responsibility until ready to conduct independent site visits, first as a two-person team and then potentially as individuals.  The volunteers will mainly be condition-checking existing County Wildlife Sites (CWS), though there may be some survey of new sites.

Tasks will include:

• Identifying sites using aerial photos & OS maps

• Finding and contacting landowners

• Preparing for surveys

• Surveying CWS (using various habitat classification criteria including Phase 1,

National Vegetation Classification (NVC), Integrated Habitat System (IHS) and

Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority habitats

• Managing the survey data (using software such as Recorder database and MapInfo

GIS system)

• Evaluating the survey sites against County Wildlife Site Criteria

• Providing both written and verbal advice to landowners

• Help organise training days and attend training days

• Public engagement involvement e.g. assisting at Bioblitz events

For futher information please visit:

Application is by CV and covering letter showing why you have the aptitude for this role to Hannah Gibbons either by email or by post to Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT), Cricklepit Mill, Commercial Road, Exeter. EX2 4DA. Please state how you heard about the opportunity. Closing date Monday 17th February 2014.

For an informal chat about the posts please contact Hannah Gibbons on 01392 274128

Interviews will take place at the Devon Wildlife Trust head office in Exeter on 6th March 2014.

Skills and abilities:

We ask that applicants feel confident that they will be able to commit to this role for at least 6 months and be available for interview in early March. The greatest benefit to each volunteer will be gained by seeing the role through an entire calendar year.  We are looking more for aptitude and potential rather than current ability, and envisage this would be an excellent opportunity for recent graduates wanting to enter the job market or for more experienced people looking for a change in direction.

Essential skills:

• Good interpersonal skills – the ability to engage and enthuse farmers, landowners and the general public

• Some prior knowledge of habitats, habitat management and species ID

• Good organisational skills

• Good written and spoken communication skills

• A full driving licence or access to a car and driver

• Able to use computer facilities with confidence and to acquire new skills quickly.  Familiar with word processing and spreadsheets

• Able to follow and interpret protocols

• Happy to work alone, sometime in remote areas, following Health and Safety

guidelines for lone working

• Self-motivated, able to work effectively within a team structure and on own initiative


• Educated to degree level or equivalent, preferably in a conservation or ecological related subject

• Experience of survey and reporting in Britain including Phase 1 and Phase 2 and NVC. Demonstrable ability to assess habitat quality

• An understanding of conservation issues in Devon and knowledge of the natural

history and geology of Devon

• Map-reading skills

• Use of a car


DBRC, 27 Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4AE and County Wildlife Sites throughout Devon.

 When and how often:

4 days per week, with approximately half the time in the field, and half the time in the office arranging visits, writing reports and managing data. Option to increase to 5 days a week once able to do independent visits.

Times as arranged with DBRC, but be prepared for some early starts and long survey days.

Who is the supervisor:

Hannah Gibbons, DBRC Records Centre Specialist Officer.  Dawn Lenn, DWT Volunteers Officer, is also available to consult on any issues affecting the volunteer.

Expenses/equipment available:

All equipment needed for the role will be provided, including where possible the use of a DWT pool car for surveys (some use of own car may be required).  Some corporate clothing will be available for the duration of the placement. Volunteers will need to provide appropriate footwear and waterproofs.

Travel expenses will be paid in line with DBRC mileage rates/policy.

(Please note that no accommodation is offered or available).


What’s in it for the volunteer?

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from highly experienced staff and to develop your own abilities. The experience gained by volunteering will provide excellent skills for your CV, and substance for a reference that we will be happy to provide. A structured programme including practical survey/ID skills and in-house desk top training will be provided.

You will gain excellent hands-on experience in habitat survey and botanical identification. There will also be opportunities to learn about habitat management and to gain experience of providing management advice to landowners.  This placement offers an exciting opportunity to learn about the wildlife of Devon (including plant identification) and will give the successful candidate skills desirable to employers in the environmental, conservation and consultancy sectors.

You will be part of a leading wildlife conservation organisation, and see from the inside how it operates, with some opportunities to join in with staff development days.

Application closing date: 17 February 2014

Interview date: 6 March 2014

Task start date: Beginning – Mid April 2014 (this date is flexible)

Task review date: May/June 2014

Task end date: Feb/March 2015

Leave a comment