Environmental protection: Think global, act local

If you want to protect the environment, help your local authority implement a strategy, says Nick Jackson

If you have a burning passion to protect the environment and appreciate that some of the best work in this respect is done on a local level, then volunteering for your council or a governmental agency could kickstart a rewarding career.

You do not need a specialist degree to get involved. "Good communication and marketing skills are the most important environmental skills," says Adam Cade, chief executive of Student Force, the educational charity specialising in placements for graduates. "You're persuading households and businesses to change; you're selling ideas."

Environmental protection covers a range of jobs from picking up litter or protecting deer, through encouraging local strategies such as recycling, to implementing vast national strategies such as flood prevention. The boom area in the public sector recently has been waste but that is already changing, with more local authorities promoting energy conservation and microgeneration projects such as wind turbines, says Cade.

The one thing most of these jobs have in common is low pay, with most non-technical graduates expected to have a considerable voluntary background and a starting salary of around £15,000. But if your community and planet are more important to you than a mortgage, a good place to start is online, either at Student Force or one of the other websites listed below.

Laura Dobbing-Hepenstal, 26, became interested in environmental work while studying fine art at Oxford Brookes, after a tutor encouraged her to draw inspiration for her work from nature. "As soon as you start making connections between yourself and the environment you realise things aren't quite right at the moment," she says.

Dobbing-Hepenstal volunteered for eight months in conservation work before an MA in sustainable development advocacy got her into paid work. Since then she has found short term contracts through Student Force at Cambridgeshire County Council and in Iceland's national parks before taking up her current 10-week contract at Norfolk County Council as a waste and sustainability champion.

Dobbing-Hepenstal's job is to go round to businesses and organisations on the north Norfolk coast and find uses for things that would otherwise be dumped in a landfill site. "It's like a dating agency for waste," she says. Dobbing-Hepenstal compares matching different businesses' needs and surplus resources to a fun lateral puzzle. "It taxes your brain to work out the solutions," she says.

Although dealing with waste is a growing priority for local councils they cannot police it alone, so much environmental protection work depends on winning public support. "It's all about getting the public onside," says Guy Stapleford, 24, clean neighbourhoods officer at Purbeck District Council in Dorset.

Stapleford's job is to enforce the 2006 Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, designed to control environmental crimes such as fly-tipping, littering and graffiti. Stapleford, an archaeology graduate, got into environmental work through a friend in waste management. "I like being outside, in nature," he says. "It's always been very important to me. This way, I feel I'm doing my bit to keep the area nice. It's a job I love."

As the only clean neighbourhoods officer for the district council, he has to convert the locals to his cause. Much of his time is spent getting people to care about their environment; going in to schools to teach children about the virtues of being aware of their surroundings and encouraging support among adults. "I feel I'm making a difference," he say. "You're changing people's attitudes. It's nice to know people can change and you can make a difference."

If you want to spread your net wider than your local community the place to head is the Environment Agency, the leading public body responsible for protecting the environment across England and Wales. It is also a major employer of technical experts, hiring environmental scientists and engineers.

It does not get much more national or critical than flood risk. Sadia Moeed, 26, is a project manager working on the agency's National Capital Programme Management Service. Her job is to assess flood wall engineering projects to prioritise the most effective, cost-efficient and environmentally sensitive projects. Recently Moeed has been involved in developing a flood risk management strategy for the Blyth estuary for the next 100 years. "I love it," she says. "Every single day is different. You talk to so many people."

Moeed first signed up to a mechanical engineering course at Warwick because of her love of cars, but in her first year found herself increasingly concerned with water supplies and environmental issues. "The importance of water is really clear," she says. "You can see the benefits of what you're doing." For Moeed, as with everyone who works in environmental protection, it comes down to passion for our communities and their future. "I've found a way I can really make a difference," she says.

More information: Student Force: www.environmentcareers.org.uk; www.environmentjob.co.uk; www.environment-agency.gov.uk

Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

£18 - 24k OTE + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Executive ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Commercial Property Surveyor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading firms of Cha...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Central London, Bank

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Structural Engineer

£22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A keen Graduate Structural Engineer with...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital