Assistant Nature Conservation Officer (GBP)

Job Description

A highly motivated graduate is sought as an Assistant Nature Conservation Officer, based in Exeter. Employed by the University of Exeter you will be seconded to Devon County Council, this role will be undertaking a wide range of work relating to the conservation of Devon's wildlife. This graduate role is part of the GBP scheme and is for 12 months initailly.



The post is hosted by Devon County Council’s Environment Team which is based at County Hall in Exeter (although staff currently working from home) and includes a range of specialist teams covering ecology and landscape, climate change, flooding and coastal risk management, historic environment and AONBs. This role is within the Natural Environment Team which is also responsible for coordinating and managing the Local Nature Partnership.

Devon Local Nature Partnership (Natural Devon) is an umbrella body that aims to bring together those with an interest in securing the economic, environmental and social benefits of a healthy natural environment.  For more information see

Whilst the intern will be hosted by DCC they will be working in partnership with a wide range of organisations and individuals across the county. DCC’s ecology team currently provides planning and wildlife advice for Dartmoor National Park, Torbay and a number of other districts.  A few key organisations involved in the LNP are Devon Wildlife Trust, The Woodland Trust, the five Devon AONBs, Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, South West Water, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, Active Devon, Devon Maritime Forum and lots more.

Previous interns have gone on to roles as Senior Ecologist for DCC, PhD student with Professor Fiona Mathews at Sussex University and a PhD student with Professor Chris Evans at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Co-ordinating the Exe Estuary Partnership and working for Natural England.   



Purpose of Role

  • To assist the Natural Environment team and Devon Local Nature Partnership in protecting, restoring and enhancing Devon’s wildlife and connecting people with nature.

    Duties and Responsibilities will include:

  • Providing basic ecological advice (relating to protected / priority sites and species and net gain) to planners and developers on a range of planning applications and infrastructure schemes including housing, quarries, waste sites, roads and schools. This will involve site visits across Devon.
  • Working with national and local experts to develop and update planning and wildlife guidance and develop new strategies relating to protected/priority sites and species e.g. for Greater Horseshoe Bats linked to the South Hams Special Areas of Conservation.
  • Providing basic ecological advice on DCC infrastructure projects.This will involve site visits to oversee habitat clearance or undertake basic walkover surveys (depending on experience).
  • Helping to co-ordinate the Devon Local Nature Partnership with a particular focus on communication (social media, newsletter, website, organising webinars etc).The post holder will provide support for existing or emerging LNP initiatives, particularly Outdoor Learning, Wild about Devon Community Action, Get Devon Buzzing, Naturally Healthy and Dark Skies.Later in the year, this will involve travel across Devon to meetings (covid dependent).
  • Reviewing and updating DCC environmental data, information and guidance.
  • Other tasks as required e.g. potentially providing support for the Devon Nature Recovery Network map and Local Nature Recovery Strategy.

    Training and Development opportunities

  • Training will be largely on the job and through informal internal training with DCC / partner staff.  There will also be some formal training opportunities available as required e.g. relating to wildlife legislation, habitat restoration, protected species licences, biodiversity metric, Habitats Regulations Assessments.  The nature of training will obviously on covid-19 restrictions.
  • The University offers online and in-person learning and development opportunities, including mandatory online training in Prevent Duty - Inclusive, Cohesive and Safe Universities; Equality and Diversity Introduction; Health and Safety Introduction and Information Governance.
  • Plus GBPs are offered a ‘how to make the most of your internship’ introductory session, bespoke mentoring, work shadow and career consultancy opportunities.

Level of Support

  • Daily line management and support will be provided by the DCC Environment Team. Support and mentoring opportunities will also be provided by partner organisations as required. 
  • The university offers extensive support to staff, including a structured Professional Development Review and Wellbeing Service plus GBPs are offered 1:1 support from the Internships Team.

Other Benefits, Rewards and Recognition

  • The County Council operates a flexible working policy
  • Travel expenses or personal mileage will be paid when out on official business.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided as required.





  • A relevant environmental degree (any level) within the last three years from any University e.g. Geography, Zoology, Ecology, Environmental Science
  • Protected species licences, especially for bats and dormice, would be desirable (but not essential).

    Behavioural Characteristics/ Personal Qualities and Attributes

  • Enthusiasm, energy and a passion for bringing people together to conserve the natural environment.
  • A broad interest in nature conservation with a strong interest in planning, development as well as partnerships, communication and community action.
  • A strong interest in all forms of communication (guidance, social media, websites, events etc) and able to have clear conversations both in person and over email with a wide variety of people from different sectors and with very different perspectives including environmental professionals, developers and members of the public.
  • Flexible and proactive – able to deal with changing priorities and identify better ways of working.

    Skills and Understanding

  • A broad understanding, and some experience of, nature conservation in the UK, including an awareness of species in Devon, national policy & legislation (particularly relating to planning) and key organisations involved in conservation.
  • Some understanding of ecology and infrastructure/planning, including legislative and policy requirements, protected species and habitat creation.Any experience would be an advantage.
  • An understanding of the socio-economic benefits of a healthy natural environment and knowledge/experience of the interaction between the environment and the farming, health, tourism, forestry, fishing, economy, community development.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Strong (above average) verbal reasoning skills with an ability to understand and reason with complex verbal information and present complex technical issues (e.g. relating to ecology and legislation) in plain English for a range of audiences e.g. planners, developers, community groups.
  • Strong organisational and project management skills. Including organising meetings, webinars and workshops, writing agendas, organising conferences and associated speakers and participants within deadlines.
  • Excellent networking and partnership skills.
  • Writing, editing, and proofreading skills. Attention to detail is essential.
  • Ability to use Microsoft tools e.g. Word, Outlook, and Powerpoint.
  • Experience using ArcMap or other GIS software would be desirable (but not essential)
  • Strong interpersonal skills with a willingness and ability to work in a team environment and independently.
  • Ability to work sensitively with a wide range of people from all sectors with differing perspectives and opinions. Able to manage potential conflict.

    Prior Experience

  • Some relevant nature conservation work experience (paid or voluntary) within the UK is expected, particularly relating to the skills listed above.
  • Can demonstrate a history of initiative and accountability for work.

Other Requirements

  • Based in Devon or the surrounding area or a willingness to relocate upon receiving an offer.
  • A full driving licence and ability to travel across Devon (sometimes to rural areas which are not accessible via public transport).  Expenses will be reimbursed.


GBP Scheme Requirements

To be eligible to apply and undertake a GBP role you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Achieved* (or about to achieve) a full undergraduate degree (or Masters or PhD).
  • Graduated in the UK within the last 3 years of your most recent degree (we will consider extenuating circumstances of potential applicants that may have prevented them from undertaking a graduate role within 3 years of graduation).
  • Attended a British university (or spent time studying at a UK university through ERASMUS)
  • The University of Exeter is committed to developing an environment which promotes equality of opportunity, values diversity and inclusivity. 
    • The University of Exeter is a Disability Confident Employer, committed attracting and recruiting people with disabilities, and retaining and supporting staff with disabilities. If an applicant declares a disability and meets all the essential criteria, they will be invited to interview.  
    • We welcome applications from all eligible students and in particular those from the following underrepresented groups. Selection and recruitment itself will be entirely on merit alone unless there are multiple applicants demonstrating equal merit. In this clear circumstance, preference would be shown to applicants from under-represented groups. This is in line with lawful positive action measures under sections 158 and 159 of the Equality Act 2010.
  • Right to Work in the UK for the duration of the GBP internship without the need for sponsorship and follow the ‌Intern Guidance- Proving Right to Work the UK. Current immigration legislation prevents the university to provide sponsorship certificates for GBP roles, as they do not meet the requirements for a Tier 2 (General Visa) as explained on the International Student Support webpages
  • Residency in the UK for the duration of your GBP role
  • You cannot undertake another GBP role if the contract length in total exceeds the maximum duration of 23 months working as a GBP.

*To undertake a GBP role you must achieve your degree. In the unlikely scenario where a degree is not awarded, the GBP hours may be reduced to 15hrs a week (for undergraduates) or 6hrs a week (for postgraduates) to enable to the graduand the capacity to successfully complete their degree. If the graduand fails their degree the GBP role will end early.


Interviews for this role are expected to take place on 07/06/2021.

To apply for this role please complete our internship application which can be downloaded here: Please send your completed form to