Countryside & Conservation Officer
Hillingdon Council

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My name’s Jenny and I’m a countryside and conservation

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officer for the London borough of Hillingdon.

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A countryside and conservation officer

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is basically a parks manager, effectively.

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So we cover the day-to-day maintenance for the park.

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So we cover everything from grass cutting all the way through to river clean ups.

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We do volunteering days, we do lots of surveying for wildlife,

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we do tree cutting, we do lots of different things.

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We basically just want to make the parks and open spaces as nice as they can be.

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I think the best thing about my job is the fact that I get to be outside

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all the time.

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I’m a keen runner, so I do like to also combine

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my running with site visits occasionally, which is great.

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So the worst part about my job is probably having to deal with the issues

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that some members of the public can cause, such as broken

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fencing or stealing things or dumping large amounts of waste

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in parks, which can be kind of annoying, expensive, time-consuming.

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Just not very nice to be a part of.

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Organisation is key and kind of

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understanding the work that you’re… the parks that you’re in

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and understanding how you can look forward to the future.

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Understanding that stuff happens over time, stuff changes.

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Flexibility works really well

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because I think you have to be able to adapt.

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When your situations change.

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So if, for instance, we get flooding in a park,

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we then have to decide how’s best to manage that.

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I picked ICT, geography

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and French for my GCSEs.

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And then my A-levels,

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I chose ICT, geography and biology.

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Geography was actually the one

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that pinpointed me most in the section that I’m doing now.

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So we did some river

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courses and so we
got our little wellies on

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and we went into the river and we were doing lots of sampling.

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And I use that

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probably more, most, out of all the work that I do.

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My first job was

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kitchen designing at Homebase and selling furniture.

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And so I did that until I was 23. Yeah.

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So I dipped in and out when I was coming back from uni.

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I did that. Because I wasn’t sure if university was for me because I really,

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really enjoyed earning lots of lovely money.

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So I thought, I’m not sure if I want to do this or not.

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So I took a year out and then after the year where I was doing

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the kitchen designing, I thought, no, I want to explore a bit more.

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And I want to meet new people and I want to explore a subject a bit more.

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So yeah, I went back to university and I covered biological science.

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And so I did a degree course called ecology,

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which is basically like environment biology, effectively.

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So you learn a lot about nature and you learn a lot about

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wildlife and all sorts of lovely, lovely, interesting things, yeah.

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I think it helps to have a job role that is customer-facing

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in order to kind of understand

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how to talk to people and how you would want to be talked to as well.

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At the age of 23, I then got another job, so

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I was working for a firm that did tree cutting.

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So I did that job for about four years and then I joined the council

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because I wanted a bit more –

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I wanted a change.

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I was fed up of all the driving I was doing, like commuting.

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And this job with the council – because it was where my parents live

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so I knew the borough really, really well –

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and work for a team, for a local council. And that is exactly how it is.

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The advice I think I would give to someone who is not sure what they want to do

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would be just to choose something you enjoy.

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Ultimately, that is what you want to do.


“I think the best thing about my job is the fact that I get to be outside all the time.”

Unsure if university was for her, Jenny decided to take a year out and worked as a kitchen designer. She went on to take an ecology degree, and now manages parks in Hillingdon, London.

More information about Conservation professionals

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

50%  male 
50%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Conservation professionals are responsible for ensuring that landscapes, habitats and species are protected and enhanced via appropriate management and conservation. They promote public understanding and awareness of the natural environment and help to develop and implement appropriate policies to achieve these objectives.
Entrants normally require a degree in a relevant subject, sometimes with a related postgraduate qualification. Entry is also possible with a relevant BTEC/SQA Award or HND. Prior practical work experience (which may be obtained on a voluntary basis) is needed for most posts. Additional on-the-job training is available.
  • Promotes and implements local and national biodiversity action plans, particularly with regard to threatened species and habitats;
  • Carries out environmental impact assessments and field surveys;
  • Implements, evaluates and monitors schemes for the management and protection of natural habitats;
  • Provides advice and information to government at national and local levels, clients, landowners, planners and developers to facilitate the protection of the natural environment;
  • Liaises with other groups in the selection and maintenance of the Protected Site System including Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Ramsar sites, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and National Nature Reserves (NNRs);
  • Maintains and develops knowledge in relevant policy areas within a national and European legislative context;
  • Promotes conservation issues via educational talks, displays, workshops and literature and liaison with the media;
  • Prepares applications for funding to other organisations, and assessing applications for funding from other organisations;
  • Carries out research into aspects of the natural world.
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