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Environment, Agriculture & Conservation careers

Stereotypes & misconceptions: What you might have already heard.

You may have heard that careers in the environment, agriculture and conservation sector are all about living the good life. You live a peaceful existence and work on your own terms, eating your own crops, talking to your animals and strolling through your cornfields in the summer time. Alternatively, you may have heard that environmental, agriculture and conservation careers are all about protesting, living in tree houses or repairing coral reefs with your bare hands.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

So before you make the decision to get into environment, agriculture and conservation, you should firstly discover what it’s really all about.

What is it really all about then? Tell me the truth.

It’s all about sustaining, protecting and using our natural environment. The environment and agriculture have become especially hot topics in recent years. You’ve probably heard the phrases ‘global warming’ and ‘buy British’ more times than you can count. Growing environmental concerns and a desire to revive the British agricultural industry have sparked reaction from the government and the public. Consequently, an increasing amount of careers in these industries are becoming available.

Environmental policies, initiatives and activities have a major influence on the quality of all our lives. The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat is all dependent on the important work of people in environmental careers. Understandably, careers in agriculture also have a huge impact on the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the flowers that decorate our homes, the pharmaceutical products we consume and even the fuels we are beginning to use.

There are many different careers within this sector, ranging from practical roles, such as farmers, gamekeepers and tree surgeons, to roles focused on environmental policy, education and corporate social responsibility.

Sounds great, tell me more!

Many businesses are now especially concerned with making sure that they comply with environmental legislation and policies. They are also keen to restrict the environmental impact of their activities. Consequently, companies either employ people within their own corporate social responsibility departments, or utilise the services of environmental consultancy companies to ensure that they are as environmentally friendly as possible.

Environmental policies and laws need to be developed, implemented, regulated and enforced. These policies can be applied locally, or can have much wider national or international implications. Consequently, various people contribute to the creation of these policies, such as park supervisors, ecologists, economists and environmental policy makers. Environmental laws are often broken and this necessitates the need for environmental lawyers and conservation police officers. Environmental education is another essential career area, which raises awareness of environmental issues and develops good practice in response to environmental policies.

Policies, laws and sustainable development initiatives are not the final answer to environmental problems. Action needs to be taken, and this is where environmental scientists, conservation workers, volunteers and engineers come in. In order to facilitate environmental change, both scientific assessments and research need to be carried out. Solutions then need to be designed, engineered and actively instigated.

The agricultural industry requires farmers, growers and horticulturalists to provide the initial seeds of production for food, clothing, fuel and other products. However, other careers are also available in the agricultural industry, including agricultural consultants. These guys offer business and technical advice to agricultural workers, which helps them to grow their business and enhance their productivity.

Careers which involve hands-on environmental, agricultural and conservation work are truly varied. Various niche careers are dedicated to woodland environments, such as tree surgeons and forestry management specialists. Other careers are dedicated to the sustainability of animal life, including careers in gamekeeping, and animal health and welfare.

However, it’s not all about land-based ecosystems and environments. Indeed, many careers are dedicated to marine and other water environments, such as fishery management, coral reef conservation, water resource management and water pollution control. Similarly, the quality of our air is incredibly important and various careers are dedicated to the control of air pollution.

So careers in environment, agriculture and conservation aren’t all about hugging trees and living as one with the earth. What a surprise! It looks like the actual work involved in this sector probably goes a lot further in preserving the environment than the actions of the hippie generation ever did. Perhaps the lack of tree-hugging is not such a bad thing after all?!

Enter the industry as a...

Watch this

Matt B - Fisheries Technical Officer

Matt B is a Fisheries Technical Officer for the Environment Agency. "I'm here to improve river habitat, improve fish populations and also improve access for anglers." He says "My dad wanted to do marine biology and his dad said 'be an accountant', and my dad regretted to this day that he's never done marine biology. I think he's a little bit envious but he just said to follow your dreams".