Agricultural, Natural, Animal Care
Countryside managers are involved in preserving and protecting important wildlife areas, including nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). They are responsible for the public access to areas such as parks, nature reserves, woodlands and historical sites. They promote awareness of issues that affect the countryside and natural environment.
Countryside managers are mainly concerned with the conservation of the countryside and how areas are used. They are involved with raising awareness of the issues which affect the natural environment, monitoring species to identify those which require protection and collecting evidence of pollution. They advise and report to authorities and communities on the effects which developments have on the natural environment or on the countryside.
Typical job responsibilities include:
- Preserving and protecting important wildlife areas
- Raising awareness of the issues that affect the countryside
- Monitoring wildlife to identify which require protection
- Hiring, training and supervising staff
- Being responsible for managing a budget
- Designing and planning new countryside landscapes or recreation sites
- Organising events to attract public involvement in new developments and sites
- Negotiating with landowners to ensure public access to various sites
- Ensuring that sites have adequate amenities for the public including paths and picnic areas.
- Applying for grants and sponsorship from a range of organisations and local businesses
- Ensuring the health and safety of everybody visiting a site
- Producing reports, information and accounts for the owners of the site or funding agencies
- Producing promotional material such as newsletters and leaflets to keep visitors informed of activities
Countryside mangers spend a lot of time in the office as well as visiting local sites. They would usually work a basic 37 hour week. However, some early starts, evening and weekend work may be required.
Countryside managers need to have a strong interest in wildlife, nature and the outdoors. They work in all weathers and at times in extremes of heat and cold. The work is physically demanding and is likely to involve a lot of walking over difficult terrain.
Future career progression will depend on the skills, qualifications and experience which has been gained. It may be necessary to move employers to achieve promotion. There may be some opportunities to specialise in a specific area of conservation such as rivers, coasts, woodland management or rural tourism. It is also possible to move into research, consultancy or teaching within a university or research institute.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for countryside managers
- Enjoy working outdoors and have a strong interest in wildlife and the countryside
- An excellent working knowledge of relevant rural and environmental legislation and policies
- Excellent communication skills as you will need to provide information to the public, landowners, local authority staff and representatives of conservation bodies
- Confident at public speaking as you may need to make presentations to funding organisations and local politicians
- Sound research skills
- A good knowledge of rural conservation, environmental and planning issues
- The ability to supervise, motivate and train other staff
- To be comfortable with handling budgets and making financial decisions
- Excellent IT and numerical skills
- Problem solving skills
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of countryside managers
Examples of typical employers of countryside managers include:
- Local Authorities
- National Park Authorities
- Conservation Organisations such as the National Trust or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
- The Countryside Council for Wales
- Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage
- Universities, Colleges and Research Institutes
Qualifications and training required
Most countryside managers will have a degree, HND or Foundation Degree in a relevant subject. Typical subjects include Countryside Management, Land and Rural Management and Biological and Environmental Sciences. Entry into a degree course requires a minimum of 5 GCSEs grades 9 – 4 (A*- C) and 2 A levels. Biology and chemistry would be useful subjects at A level. In Scotland 4-5 Highers (A-C) will be required for degree entry including sciences where appropriate plus a good range of National 5 including English. HNC/HND courses require 1-2 Highers and English and Maths at National 5.
It may also be possible to enter this career through an Advanced or Degree Level apprenticeship or a Modern Apprenticeship in Scotland. Experience in business or a business qualification may also be useful background. Some work experience in areas such as environmental or conservation work is essential to gain relevant skills and knowledge. Most entrants have completed at least six months of voluntary work with an organisation such as the National Trust.
There is also a BTEC level 3 qualification in Environmental Conservation and Countryside Management for which you would require a minimum of 4/5 GCSEs grades 9 – 4 (A* - C) including English, Maths and possibly a science.
Once you have started work most training is done on the job. Lantra National Training Organisation offers courses for professional development.
It may also be possible to gain employment as a Countryside Ranger and apply to become a Countryside Manager after gaining suitable qualifications and experience.