Job Vacancies

Landscape Recovery and Sustainable Farming: Project Officer & Assistant Project Officer Roles

Tenure: 3 year fixed –term contracts (Full-time), with an aspiration to convert to open-ended (subject to organisational needs and funding).

Starting Salary:

·  Project Officer £30,000-£34,000

·  Assistant Project Officer £26,000-£30,000

Location: Wheatley (Oxford)

As part of an expanding programme of work with the Farming sector, The River Thame Conservation Trust is seeking to recruit two posts. Both roles provide a fantastic career development opportunity, working at the vanguard of landscape scale nature recovery and new markets in ecosystem services. As part of a dynamic, delivery-focussed organisation, the Trust will nurture the growth of your skills and capabilities, with a view to their long-term contribution to our success.

About the River Thame Conservation Trust  

Founded in 2012, the River Thame Conservation Trust (RTCT) is a charitable environmental organisation dedicated to safeguarding the River Thame, its catchment and wildlife, ensuring that these benefits can be enjoyed by people.  We are a team of five full-time staff benefitting from a wide range of complementary skills and experience. We are supported by a board of trustees, and have a grounding in local communities through a vibrant network of volunteers, close cooperation with landowners, and partnership with a range of statutory, private and charitable bodies.

The Trust has a strong focus of delivery on-the-ground, with work programmes to improve the habitat and connectivity of the catchment’s watercourses and create new floodplain wetland habitat.  Improving our understanding of river health, and factors impacting upon it is also a focus. We pursue that understanding via programmes to monitoring water quality by citizen science, river fly monitoring, and monitoring to understand fish and mammal populations.  The data provided through these programmes enables us to prioritise our on on-the-ground work, as well as to effectively engage with other parties and sectors who may be part of the problem, or who can provide the solutions. Our role as co-hosts for the Thame Catchment Partnership places us ideally to progress those cross-sectoral discussions.

RTCT benefits from being part of a wider family of rivers trusts, under the umbrella of the national body the Rivers Trust. Rivers Trust affiliation provides a basis for knowledge exchange, training opportunities and sharing of resources. Additionally, Rivers Trust affiliation gives us representation to Government and other national bodies, through national-level advocacy and campaigns led by the Rivers Trust.

New opportunities for the Trust

One of the most active and important areas of the Trust’s portfolio is working with farmers to promote water and wildlife friendly farming practices.  This has been achieved most recently through our role in facilitating the Thame Catchment Farm Cluster. The momentum gained through our work with farmers has enabled of the Trust to secure funding for two new significant programmes of work, which we anticipate will be transformational for the Trust and the Thame Catchment:

Landscape Recovery: Ock and Thame Farmers Freshwater and Floodplains Restoration Project (Defra funded)

This project is one of 32 awarded by Defra as part of its second-round of the Environment Land Management (ELM) Landscape Recovery Programme.

Secured with our partners the Freshwater Habitats Trust, the project capitalises on each organisation’s respective roles in the Thame and Ock Catchments and complimentary capabilities in river and freshwater habitats restoration and catchment management.  

The Landscape Recovery project will identify opportunities for creation and enhancement of river, freshwater and wetland habitat within the farmed landscape, and in doing so contribute towards nature recovery, net zero, and food security, in a way which attracts investment from private and public sources.

 Sustainable food and Farming Network (Rothschild Foundation funded)

An RTCT proposal to the Rothschild Foundation Strategic Fund has resulted in the award of a 3-year grant under its sustainable food systems theme.

The funding will help realise the appetite amongst Thame Catchment farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural processes, thus playing an essential role in local delivery of urgent challenges relating to the environment and nature recovery.

The project will achieve this by working with farmers to identify their aspirations, understand their farms and farming operations and opportunities to realise environmental and farm-business benefits. We will seek to align aspirations and opportunities with exciting but still emerging new financing mechanisms including new Environmental Land Management Schemes(ELMS), as well as voluntary and statutory green financing mechanisms and supply chains.

Key to the above, the project will also support farmers by facilitating peer-to peer learning, knowledge exchange and access to new markets, including through aggregating opportunities, and realising economies of scale, through the farm cluster model.

The new roles we are seeking

The Trust is seeking to recruit two posts which will primarily work on the above projects, but also on other relevant aspects of the Trust’s Farm and Land programme.

Both roles provide a fantastic career development opportunity, working at the vanguard of landscape scale nature recovery and new markets in ecosystem services. As part of a dynamic, delivery-focussed organisation, the Trust will nurture the growth of your skills and capabilities, with a view to their long-term contribution to our success.

Full details of the roles are provided below:

Project Officer: Landscape Recovery & Sustainable Farming

Location: Office base in Wheatley (Oxford), with fieldwork throughout the Thame Catchment

Working Days:  Fulltime (37.5 hours per week)

Length of Contract: 3 years (with an aspiration to convert to open-ended, subject to organisational needs, and future funding).

Starting Salary: £30-34K p.a. depending on skills and experience

Place of Work: Hybrid working, office based at Wheatley, Oxfordshire with regular travel throughout the catchment and some home working.

We are seeking an enthusiastic and experienced Project Officer to play a key role in the coordination and delivery of the Ock and Thame Farmers Freshwater and Floodplains Restoration Project, which is one of the most exciting wetland recovery schemes in the UK, funded by the latest round of Defra’s Landscape Recovery Programme. This is a partnership project with Freshwater Habitats Trust and aims to halt and reverse the decline of freshwater biodiversity and use nature-based solutions to contribute to net zero. This initial two-year funded phase will seek to establish a basis for along-term (20 year) phase, enabled by private and public funds which will be sought as part of the initial 2-year phase. Capitalising on extensive existing experience of freshwater and catchment management, the project will bring freshwater and wetland habitats into favourable condition, at least double the extent of priority and wildlife-rich freshwaters and increase freshwater and wetland carbon stocks.

You will play an important role in the 2-year Landscape Recovery development phase, liaising with farmers and other stakeholders; helping to commission and manage work streams to inform the project development; coordinate, collate and map baseline data for participating landholdings; help design practical land and habitat management interventions and prioritise opportunities to enhance sites in line with the project aims.  

This is an exciting role with opportunities to work with a wide partnership base, across two catchments, with varied activities, covering both desk-based and field-based work. The role is strategically significant, seeking as it does to address policy imperatives of nature recovery and net zero and new funding mechanisms (opportunities from green finance, whilst capitalising on a new funding landscape available to farmers).

Key Responsibilities:

  • Coordinate and deliver a programme of farm baseline monitoring (carbon, water, habitat, biodiversity), involving both direct data collection (fieldwork), and coordination of / with specialist external surveyors.        
  • Identify opportunities for nature-friendly farming practices and interventions based on aspirations of individual farmers, and opportunities identified as a result of baseline and ecological opportunity mapping.       
  • Aggregate baseline and opportunity data at a collective level (farm cluster, and Landscape Recover participating farms), to identify and communicate collective opportunities for biodiversity, carbon and water benefits, and in turn income and investment.     
  • Proactively share learnings and insights from the Thame catchment with colleagues working in the Ock catchment (led by Freshwater Habitat Trust). Conversely, assimilate insights from the Ock and apply to the Thame.
  • Represent the project externally to farmers project partners, and prospective funders both on a one-to-one basis and at group events, and (in collaboration with the Trust’s Communications Officer), media channels.
  • Work with colleagues and project partners to relate nature friendly farming opportunities and interventions to income and investment opportunities – Statutory and voluntary mechanisms, e.g. for biodiversity, carbon and water.
  • In collaboration with specialist project partners identify and understand both the opportunities and demands for food industry customers to “inset” carbon, water and biodiversity benefits within the supply chain, and identify options for farmers.
  • Contribute to, and lead parts of, the development of several of the required Defra Project Plans, for example land management and site access plans.
  • Working with colleagues to conceive, scope and design habitat and species projects at a farm-scale as part of landscape-scale enhancements.
  • Supporting the day-to-day administration of the project including tracking and recording project activities to achieve project objectives and indicators, updating actions and identifying project risks.
  • Liaise closely with landowners and other stakeholders, building strong relationships and effective partnerships.

Skills and Experience Required:

  • Educated to degree level in a relevant field (agriculture, environment science or similar) or with demonstrable level of equivalent knowledge / experience.
  • Ability to communicate effectively, with integrity, tact, and diplomacy, both verbally and in writing to a wide range of audiences.  
  • Understanding of farm businesses, including demonstrable competence of collaborative working with farmers / the farm sector to achieve positive environmental outcomes at the farm / farm cluster scale
  • Knowledge of agriculture and farming practices, including for soil and water conservation
  • Familiarity with identification, surveying and mapping UK priority habitats and species.
  • Familiarity with habitat creation and restoration approaches, ideally for aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
  • Familiarity with current and emerging agri-environment payment mechanisms as well as  concepts of Payment for Ecosystem Services, Natural Capital and Nature Based Solutions.
  • Well organised, and able to operate with in a structured programme featuring project deadlines, milestones, and inter-dependencies with colleagues and partners.
  • Good computer and IT skills including MS Office, GIS (Geographical Information Systems) software.
  • A good understanding of the challenges of working in the NGO sector and/or a small organisation.
  • A full driving licence and the use of your own car (insured for work use).

Assistant Project Officer: Sustainable Farming

Location: Office base in Wheatley (Oxford), with fieldwork throughout the Thame Catchment

Working Days:  Full time (37.5 hours per week)

Length of Contract: 3 years (with an aspiration to convert to open-ended, subject to organisational needs, and future funding).

Salary: £26-30K depending on skills and experience

Place of Work: Hybrid working, office based at Wheatley, (Oxford) with regular travel throughout the catchment and some home working.

This is an entry level agriculture and environment role which will support the delivery of our programme to promote and enable environmentally sustainable farming practices in the Thame catchment, and will be integral to the Trust’s activities. The programme comprises several projects, covering agri-ecological and sustainable water management systems on farms restoring natural capital using nature-based solutions. The programme will work with partners to promote sustainable food goals and achieve greater visibility of local supply chains, in-turn facilitating private and public investment to support this.

You will support the further development of an existing catchment-focused, farm cluster and will deliver three main areas of work, under the guidance of the Programme Manager:

  1. Designing, planning and delivering a programme to grow, understanding and confidence of the cluster and its members in navigating new challenges and opportunities for economically and environmentally thriving agriculture.
  2. Talking to farmers to understand aspirations for their farm businesses, and how these might be achieved, recognising the range of existing and emerging opportunities
  3. Undertaking farm visits to identify and map potential opportunities to achieve farmer aspirations and project goals.

The role requires a professional, persuasive, and engaging individual with a familiarity with current agricultural policy, and interest in farming and sustainable food systems.   You should have a passion and enthusiasm for the conservation sector, particularly for regenerative / agri-ecological and sustainable agriculture and will be expected to keep up-to-date with the latest sector developments.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Under the guidance of the Programme Manager, plan and organise meetings and events including farm cluster and landowner training and knowledge exchange events focussed on sustainable food and farming.
  • Working closely with the Trust’s Communications Officer, develop, manage and communicate information resources to support the programme of works (e.g. outputs from farm cluster and external meetings and events).
  • Talking to farmers to understand aspirations for their farm businesses, and how these might be achieved, recognising the range of existing and emerging opportunities and constraints.
  • Under the guidance of the Programme Manager, plan and deliver farm visits to help map habitat and identify opportunities for nature-friendly interventions and practices.
  • Collect and maintain accurate spatial, and environmental data (including via GIS) relating to the project (including from farm visits).
  • Maintain details of engagements with landowners relevant to the programme, at all times respecting confidentiality, information security, and data protection (GDPR) requirements.
  • Provide spatial analysis and reports based on the above data as required by programme members.

Skills and Experience Required:

  • Educated to degree level in a relevant field (agriculture, environment or similar) or with a demonstrable level of equivalent knowledge / experience.
  • Ability to communicate effectively, with integrity, tact, and diplomacy, both verbally and in writing to a wide range of audiences.
  • Confidence and willingness to engage independently with landowners and land managers.
  • Ability to manage workload effectively, plan and prioritise tasks to demanding timelines.
  • Ability to plan (including producing risk assessments) and undertake farm visits (adhering to risk assessments, biosecurity and other relevant requirements).
  • Ability to recognise in the field different land cover types including different agricultural land -uses, as well as natural and semi-natural habitat features (and ideally associated species)
  • Knowledge of agricultural systems and be ability  to identify potential environmental impacts, as well as opportunities for improvement
  • Willingness to learn new skills, capitalising on the knowledge and opportunities afforded by colleagues within the Trust and wider networks.
  • Experience using IT & mapping software including email, GIS systems, MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel and videoconference apps.  
  • A full driving licence and the use of your own car (insured for work use)

Benefits (Both Roles)

Flexible working: Whilst a degree of presence in the Trust’s office base is essential for both roles, extensive latitude exists for a degree of homeworking, to suit personal circumstances.

Annual leave: 24 days as standard, plus public Holidays. Three additional days p.a. may be allocated at the discretion of the Board of Trustees.

Pension & Life Assurance through the Rivers Trust Pension Scheme (9% Employer and 6% employee contribution).

Application Process (Both Roles)

To apply for one or other of these roles please send, via e-mail the following to the RTCT Senior Project Officer Hilary Phillips: (e-mail Hilary@rivethame.org):

• A covering letter (not more than two pages) outlining your motivation for the role,  how you meet the required skills and experience, and how you would bring these to bear to deliver the role.

• A two-page CV.

Deadline for applications: 09:00 Thursday the 6th of March

Applicants shortlisted for interview will be advised by 5pm on the 8th of March

Interviews are provisionally scheduled for the 15th (Project Officer Role) and 18th (Assistant Project Officer role) of March at the RTCT Offices in Wheatley, Oxfordshire, OX33 1XW.

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