Conservation Contracts Assistant

Conservation Contracts Assistant

Salary:                  £10.42ph + holiday pay

Duration:              Early December 2023 – Late February 2024  

Location:              Sheffield (meeting point) with travel via company vehicles to work sites, primarily in the Peak District

The Wildscapes casual team play an important part in enabling a small core team to respond to changes or peaks in work. Many of our contracts are seasonally led such as moorland restoration in the winter and for our ecology team bat surveying in the summer and are fully supported through the hard work and skill of casual workers.

As a casual conservation contracts assistant you’ll be working in a profit for purpose team that is committed to achieving excellence for both clients and for the natural environment. Casuals at Wildscapes get to experience working in beautiful outdoor scenery as part of a close knit team that prides itself on its friendly and supportive working ethos. Our core team are highly trained and competent outdoor first aiders and we boast of extremely high Health and Safety standards.

The position is being offered on a casual basis which means that whilst Wildscapes will try to provide as much notice as possible when offering work, there will be no obligation for them to offer a minimum amount of hours or for the Conservation Contracts Assistant to accept any work so offered. The amount of hours offered will vary depending on business needs.

Ideally we are looking for individuals able to commit to a minimum of 2-3 days per week (Mon-Fri) from early December to late February.  Full time hours will be available for the right candidate(s).  Opportunities to support other conservation projects, continue work through Spring/Summer and secure permanent roles will be dependent on business need and performance in the casual role throughout the winter.

Overall Purpose

As part of a team, provide and deliver practical habitat management tasks across project sites. 

The work within Wildscapes Land Management is generally seasonal. During the winter months the main area of work is sphagnum moss planting, plus planting of trees and hedgerows, stock fencing, and tree felling.  Summer work will consist of stock fencing, brushcutting/ strimming, creation of ponds and leaky dams, and other related conservation works.  

We are specifically looking for individuals to support our team with a number of sphagnum  planting projects across the Peak District between December 2023 and March 2024.

The majority of works will take place in remote and extreme working conditions.  Terrain is usually very rough, variable and uneven, and on very steep ground. Works will continue  through demanding and difficult weather conditions. Applicants will need a good level of fitness and experience working in a demanding outdoor environment. 

Days are 8-10 hours, meeting in Sheffield at approximately 7am and travelling in company vehicles to work sites, primarily within the Peak District.  There may be some additional travel via foot due to the remote location of some of the work sites and the lack of accessibility for vehicles.  A driving licence would be advantageous.

Key Responsibilities

Deliver a range of practical habitat management tasks, following instructions from the site supervisor and Wildscapes team managers. This can include; 

  • Planting sphagnum moss as part of moorland restoration and peat carbon capture works across the region. As well as other conservation based land management tasks.  
  • Contribute to maintaining H&S on site during the work day and adhering to Sheffield & Rotherham  Wildlife Trust Health & Safety Policy and Procedures: 
  • Safe use of tools, equipment 
  • Tool store 
  • Ensure sites are left in safe and secure condition 
  • Reporting any accidents and incidents. 

How to Apply

We have received a large number of applications for this role that should fill our requirements for this winter.  If you would like to be added to our reserve list, please apply as per the below and we’ll be in touch should we need to take on any more people.

Please download the full job description and person specification below.

To apply: please complete an application form and attach your current CV to the form, along with a cover letter on how you meet the criteria for the role, to or by post to Recruitment, Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust, 37 Stafford Road, Sheffield, S2 2SF.

If you would like any further information about this role or an informal discussion, please contact the team on 0114 303 5123.

No agencies please.

Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust and Wildscapes CIC believe that equality, diversity and inclusion is an essential part of what we do and how we achieve our vision for wildlife and nature.  Our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with deserve equality of opportunity, benefit from embracing diversity and thrive in an inclusive environment.  We welcome applications from everyone and value diversity in our workplace. 

Find out more about the benefits we offer, what our current employees think about their roles, and search for current vacancies here.

Post and wire fencing work
Wildscapes CIC operative carrying out strimming works

Access creation and improvement

We offer a wide range of services to make sites easily accessible; from building and improving footpaths to adjoining land management and installing site furniture. We are qualified to use high quality machinery which speeds up the time of creating/improving access points where appropriate.

We provide clearance of public right of ways (PROW), and specialise in labour intensive work on sites where use of large machinery may be intrusive, inappropriate or inaccessible. We make sites more easily accessible whilst protecting wildlife. We are experienced at delivering PROW works within a wide range of habitats, be it extensive moorland habitats to urban woodlands.

Boundary work and Improvements

Wildscapes deliver boundary improvements to greenspace sites consisting of:

  • Post and wire fencing
  • Post and rail fencing
  • Vehicle barriers
  • Access points and entrance gates
  • Dry stone walling

We use locally sourced materials wherever possible, enabling you to support the local economy by working with us. Our materials are sustainably sourced, with all of our timber for our fencing being of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard. This means you can be reassured that the work we deliver for you isn’t damaging to the environment.

Grounds Maintenance

Wildscapes provides competitive grounds maintenance services for a range of clients. We specialise in nature reserves, schools, neighbourhood parks and housing landscapes, bringing real quality to some of the most challenging urban locations. Our experience of involving users results in a safer and better-valued outdoor environment.

Conservation Management

We work with landowners who are required to manage their landholdings to Local Wildlife Sites, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) standards, and with conservation organisations implementing enhancement or restoration works. Our experience includes woodland, wetland, meadows and heathland management, as well as maintenance for grazing infrastructure, firebreak creation and scrub clearance.

Habitat creation and restoration

We are extremely passionate about creating new habitats to be enjoyed by both people and wildlife. To add to our passion we have a proven track record in the successful delivery and creation of new habitats through our Land Management service.

We pride ourselves in constructing, managing and maintaining all types of outdoor spaces; ensuring that the clients and end-users are at the heart of service. Our team are all trained in practical land management with the relevant technical accreditations and practical conservation knowledge. Together this provides our clients the assurance that our service is safe, efficient, of the highest quality and practical to fit to the needs of users both during and on completion of projects.

Whether our clients are required to re-instate lost habitat via the planning process or are investing in local green infrastructure for employees or communities, Wildscapes has extensive experience of creating a range of natural habitats such as ponds, wetlands, flower-rich grassland, woodlands or artificial habitat such as otter holts, badger setts or water vole ditches.

Invasive Species Control

If you’re having difficulties with invasive species our land management team can help you save time and expense and also prevent you from breaking the law.

Professional support when dealing with invasive species can save time, expense and diminish health risks. Wildscapes can advise on appropriate management and differing control techniques for these problem species, and is licensed to undertake practical removal and control work on site.   Our team are experienced and trained to eradicate species such as Japanese Knot weed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam, which can course serious and ongoing problems for both existing and new development.

Japanese knotweed can compromise the structural integrity of buildings and pavements and if left untreated will reduce both the amenity value of a site and its commercial value. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 requires that landowner or land tenants take all reasonable steps to control Japanese knotweed from infringing into adjoining land. Penalties for causing an infestation can be as serious as two years imprisonment and/or a large fine. The Environmental Protection Act 1990, Duty of Care Regulations 1991, states that cut knotweed materials and soil containing rhizomes must be disposed of as controlled waste if they are to be removed from their site origin.

The Weeds Act 1959 requires that the following plants are controlled:

  • Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense)
  • Spear thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
  • Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius)
  • Curled dock (Rumex crispus)
  • Common ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

These plants do have some ecological value so action should only be taken to prevent them from spreading in large quantities to other areas or, in the case of common ragwort, to prevent them from adversely affecting livestock.

Tree planting

Our Team are experienced in the art of tree planting; whether it be habitat restoration via woodland creation in remote moorland cloughs; tree planting as part of schools or volunteer day events or planting of native hedgerow or native trees as part of landscaping schemes. We have worked for a variety of clients from large scale conservation organisations such as RSPB and National Trust, to councils, including Sheffield City Council and Rotherham MBC, and private individuals.

Moorland Conservation

Our land management team have an exceptional local knowledge and as a result have helped restore some of the most damaged areas of moorland in the UK. With expert heathland and moorland restoration skills, we work on a number of projects throughout the winter months to help stabilise bare peat. This is achieved through a combination of methods including the spreading of heather cuttings (brash) to prevent any further deterioration of the bare peat, and the planting of sphagnum and other native moorland plants to create a healthy blanket bog. We specialise in delivering moorland restoration works to remote areas, using working methods that protect the surrounding ecological and archaeological valuable habitats and features.

Wildflower ID Workshop

This course provides a day’s introduction to the identification of wildflowers with an emphasis on the most common plant families and basic flower structure.

We will spend the morning in the classroom before heading out to a local nature reserve in the afternoon.  Following the course, attendees should be able to;

– Recognise the key diagnostic features used to identify wildflowers

– Recognise members of the 9 most common families of wildflowers

– Learn to identify a number of common species

– Become familiar with the use of keys to identify species

The course is aimed at anyone with a general interest in botany, no previous knowledge is required.

Winter Tree ID Workshop

Do you know your ash from your alder?

If you do, you’ll know that ash trees have distinctive black buds, whilst the buds of the common alder often have a striking purple tinge. 

If you’re still in the dark, you can learn the secrets of tree identification in winter with this day-long course run by our Wildscapes ecologists. We will spend the morning in the classroom looking at winter identification features before heading out to a local park to practice identifying trees, and end the day with a fun quiz to test your knowledge.

The course is aimed at anybody with a general interest in tree identification, no previous knowledge is required.

An Introduction to Phase 1 Habitat Surveys

This one day course provides the detail on how to conduct a Phase 1 Habitat Survey – an essential skill for quickly surveying and mapping habitat types.

The course covers understanding how to plan, conduct and write up a Phase 1 survey. There will be a classroom-based introduction in the morning, followed by the opportunity to try out techniques in the field in a local park.

Following the course, attendees should be equipped with the skills to; 

– Understand the methodology of a Phase 1 Habitat Survey

– Be able to use mapping techniques, target notes and create a species list

– Understand the key indicator species to identify habitats

– Understand the basic report format

– Understand the options for mapping

– Understand how Phase 1 surveys are used and their role within extended surveys and PEAs

An Introduction to Bat Surveys

This one day course is aimed at people entering or working in the ecology sector who want to get an introduction to bat surveying before the start of the survey season. The course covers:

– An introduction to the biology and ecology of bats

– An introduction to the identification of British bats

– An introduction to bat legislation

– How to plan and conduct a Preliminary Roost Assessment on buildings, identifying potential for bat roosts

– How to plan and conduct ground based tree assessments, identifying potential for bat roosts

– An introduction to aerial survey techniques with a demonstration of tree climbing and use of endoscopes

– An introduction to nocturnal activity surveys

– Bat walk in a local park, practicing using bat detectors