Skip Content

Ecologist (Natural England)

Age: 58

Organisation: Natural England

Pete Stevens MCIEEM - Ecologist


Why did you decide on a career in ecology/environmental management, and when did you decide?

At school I studied biology and became an avid birdwatcher from age 13.  However, I had other employment (building work, accident & life insurance, estate agency) for many years until I was made redundant.

How did you get started in the sector?  What qualifications and experience did you have? Have you gained any additional qualifications since?

I worked as a volunteer and as a paid wildlife consultant plus some practical work (hedge-laying/stone-walling) and gained several short term contracts with local authorities. Then, at 40 years old, on the advice of my manager, went to college and after three years gained an honours degree in Rural Resource Management.

How long have you been in your current role?

14 years

What does a typical day involve? What are your responsibilities?

A lot of deskwork and occasional fieldwork.

What do you think are the most important skills for someone in your role to have?

In depth knowledge of vegetation communities and management plus additional species identification skills and ecological knowledge.

Describe the aspects of your job you find particularly rewarding and those you find challenging?

Passing on my knowledge and experience to colleagues, either informally or formally.

Describe your career progression so far and any plans you have for the future

I started on a short-term contract with a grazing management team, moving on to become an Environmentally Sensitive Area Adviser. I then moved into a specialist team with colleagues working as ecologists, landscape and historical
advisers. I worked as a regional ecologist advising and training Advisers delivering agri-environment schemes and carrying out surveys to produce habitat management plans, amongst other work. For eight years I acted as
national fungi champion. I now work in a national team supporting some local casework, delivering training and developing a new agri-environment scheme.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone seeking a career in the sector?

Specialise in an area of natural history over and above that required for the work (e.g. organic farming, lower plants, butterflies or bats).