News

Fantastic Opportunity for an Ecologist to work In the Turks & Caicos Islands

Project Officer: Wetlands Ecologist

MINISTRY: Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Fisheries, Maritime Affairs, Culture & Heritage, Agriculture, Religious Affairs and Gaming.
DEPARTMENT: Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR)
LOCATION: DECR Field Office, Corner Wall House, Kew Settlement, North Caicos
PROJECT: DPLUS129: Understanding Ramsar wetland dynamics for marine conservation and environmental resilience

Job Description

The Wetlands Ecologist is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the on-island wetland components of project DPLUS129, with the support from the DECR. They will coordinate with staff, stakeholders and partners working within the project, and other programmes in TCI. This position will develop the scientific and monitoring activities of the Department related to the management of the North, Middle, and East Caicos Wetlands Nature Reserve (NR17), a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance and the Turks & Caicos Islands’ largest Protected Area. The job holder will carry out fieldwork for data collection and provide habitat analysis and ground-truthing for Earth Observation imagery, provide science-based advice on the development of a long-term monitoring plan for the Ramsar site, and carry out interdepartmental, stakeholder, and public-relations activities in relation to the Ramsar site.

Under the supervision of the Acting Assistant Director of Research & Development for the DECR, the position’s main responsibilities are to:

  1. Lead the collection and management of ground truth data of the wetlands
  2. Aid the development and overall strategy for achieving the wetland component objectives
  3. Assist in the production of the wetland monitoring plan, to ensure it meets all the Department’s and Government’s needs, and those of stakeholders
  4. Help raise awareness on-island, including promoting and monitoring the web interface, as well as interacting with the local community
  5. Understand the data and techniques so that others can be trained and develop on-island capability
  6. Establishing new work practices to use the information from the new data
  7. Liaise with key stakeholders of the DPLUS129 project as needed, and represent DECR at regional, national, and international levels, as needed
  8. Maintain an inventory of all project-related equipment, supplies, and materials
  9. Writing and compilation of draft and final reports as needed
  10. Assistance in the preparation of workshops associated with the project
  11. Support DECR in implementing existing wetland-related projects
  12. Support DECR in designing and developing new wetland-related project proposals, with a particular focus on securing additional funding for TCI Ramsar sites
  13. Assist the Project Manager and Acting Assistant Director as necessary
  14. Adhere to all Turks and Caicos Islands Government Public Service Codes, rules, and regulations
  15. Perform other activities as directed by competent authorities

Requirements

Essential

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience in a relevant discipline (e.g., Biology, Ecology, Bio-geography, Natural Resource Management, or other related fields)
  • Knowledge of Climate Change vulnerabilities and adaption principles in Caribbean coastal wetlands
  • Proficient in using office applications (MS Word/Excel/PowerPoint) and other web-based management systems
  • Proficient in using GIS applications (e.g., QGIS/ArcGIS) and other GI systems
  • Proven experience managing your own work and delivering output to time and budget
  • Proven experience of stakeholder liaison, or demonstrable equivalent transferrable skills
  • Ability to work in remote wetland areas, on rough ground, in wet and muddy conditions, in hot weather (30-35°C often without shade), and in areas frequented by mosquitoes
  • Good written and oral communication skills
  • Proven track record of independent working
  • Full, valid driving license
  • Willing to travel internationally, and possibly at short notice.

Desirable

  • Comprehensive knowledge of the Ramsar Convention and Ramsar Secretariat processes
  • Previous experience of collaborating with Ramsar authorities in the Caribbean would be an advantage
  • In-depth understanding of water and wetland management issues in the Caribbean
  • Kayak and/or small motor marine vessel handling and operation
  • Experience in working with government institutions on policy frameworks
  • Strong writing skills and a capacity to draft reports independently and to disseminate project outputs to a wide audience in the region.

This is a full-time post until 30th June 2023, based in North Caicos, Turks and Caicos.

SALARY: Grade 6: USD $33,415.00 — $37,617.50 per annum (commensurate with experience)

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:
CV with current contact information must be accompanied by:

  • Cover Letter
  • Two letters of reference (one preferably from a former employer)
  • Copies of educational certificates
  • Copy of the Passport photo page

Short-listed applicants will be required to supply a Police Record.

Applications should be addressed to the Office of the Assistant Director of Research and Development sent by email to [email protected] with the subject line being “Project Officer: Wetlands Ecologist.” Successful applicants will work in accordance with the Public Service Ordinance. Applications without all supporting documents will not be processed. We thank all applicants for their interest, however, only persons selected for an interview will be contacted.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 14 December 2021

Project Summary

The project aims to provide evidence of the wetland dynamics of the Caicos Islands. It will demonstrate how the wetlands support biodiversity, coastal protection, and provide natural capital. The project will evaluate historic change, show how future climate could impact the wetlands, and provide evidence to review the Ramsar extent. It will develop a monitoring framework and dashboard to view project and ongoing monitoring data, build technical and scientific capacity in local staff, in order to help sustain wetland management in the long term.

This project focuses on the important multiple values of, and potential changes to, the wetland Ramsar site in North, Middle, and East Caicos, including considering the impact of climate change issues affecting TCI.

The project directly contributes to the Ramsar Convention in that the project seeks to provide robust scientific evidence for the management of the TCI site and establishing the evidence base for potentially extending the Ramsar site into East Caicos.

It will help TCI further meet commitments set out in the three pillars of the Ramsar Convention:

  • Work towards the wise use of all their wetlands
  • Designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management
  • Cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species

In terms of local initiatives, the project will help TCI further the objectives of its Environment Strategy and contribute to meeting the Convention’s mission.

This project will help the Turks and Caicos Islands Government meet Guiding Principles and Commitments of the 2001 TCI Environment Charter. This includes a commitment to ensure the protection and restoration of key habitats, species and landscape features through legislation and appropriate management structures and mechanisms, including a protected areas policy and abide by the principles set out in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and work towards meeting International Development Targets on the environment.

DECR is mandated to promote protection and sustainable utilization of natural resources throughout the TCI. DECR have put together a team, across the islands, consisting of Assistant Directors, Scientific Officers, Environmental Officers and Conservation Officers; leading the field work and being the key project beneficiary. The project will be overseen by the Director.

Environment Systems Awarded Major Industrial Research Project

Environment Systems Awarded Major Industrial Research Project Under the Government’s Farming Innovation Programme

Environment Systems in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and the Soil Association has been awarded a major two-year industrial research project under the Government’s Farming Innovation Programme (FIP). FIP is part of Defra’s investment in innovation, research and development that sets out to transform productivity, enhance environmental sustainability and meet net zero goals. The project, Pasture Optimisation for Resilience and Livelihoods (PASTORAL) which is funded by Innovate UK will combine satellite data with advanced algorithms, to deliver weekly intelligence on grass biomass and carbon budgets through a co-designed platform that will increase farm productivity and carbon efficiency.

Quality, productive pasture is essential for efficient livestock production. Currently farmers walk their fields with a rising plate meter to assess grass biomass available for livestock grazing. This approach does not accurately reflect field quality, nor likely future growth under climate change, limiting accuracy of pasture management decisions. The PASTORAL service will be co-designed with livestock farmers split equally between beef, dairy and lamb producers across England, with service testing, development and demonstration across organic, regenerative agriculture and conventional farming systems.

Livestock - beef, dairy and lamb
The PASTORAL service will be co-designed with livestock farmers split equally between beef, dairy and lamb producers across England
Farmers face the growing threat of climate change, which reduces grassland productivity, and need to demonstrate carbon reduction to satisfy government net zero policy and the supply chain’s growing need to demonstrate environmental credentials. Gaps in existing farm diagnostics make it difficult for farmers to accurately manage pasture or measure carbon stocks and sequestration. PASTORAL will revolutionise pasture management by providing farmers with near real-time information on pasture productivity including grass biomass, its consumption and growth rate, plus tools to optimise herd and flock distribution and the ability to measure soil carbon resources.

PASTORAL will be led by Environment Systems whose established environmental and agricultural consultancy and data services provide solutions for land management, monitoring and policy for ecosystems and natural capital evaluation. The University of Edinburgh will provide pasture modelling to help in the creation of field biomass and carbon analytics suitable for delivery to farmers. The Soil Association will facilitate farmer engagement for co-creation activities including workshops and feedback sessions. A steering group will be assembled to provide strategic oversight and input into the programme. Confirmed members include representatives from Mole Valley Farmers, Waitrose & Partners, Dalehead, Dovecote Park and WD Farmers.

Links
UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) News

Defra Press Release

Environment Systems Named One of the Winning Teams Joining the CivTech Accelerator Programme

Today Environment Systems was announced as one of the winning teams joining the CivTech Accelerator Programme which aims to solve a range of challenges set by public sector bodies, ranging from local councils and national charities to the government itself.

CivTech ran an initial Exploration Stage, where innovative and ambitious teams, selected through an open and easy-to-enter selection process that sets out to address some of the challenges public sector organisations have set, in this case peatland restoration. Having won through to the CivTech Accelerator stage the focus shifts to developing and prototyping the solution together with its partners, the Tweed Forum Ltd, Land & Habitat Ltd and Sarah Robinson a land and habitat Ecologist with extensive experience of Scottish peatlands.

Scottish peatland
Peatland which makes up over 20% of Scottish land cover is an important carbon store and home to a range of rare and important wildlife
Peat is a big thing in Scotland making up 20% of the land cover, of which 80% is degraded. Among the Scottish Government’s top priorities are the twin challenges of addressing the climate change emergency and biodiversity loss. It has recently committed £250 million to peatland restoration over the next 10 years.

Peatlands formed over thousands of years are incredibly special habitats, made up of highly adapted plant species and home to a range of rare and important wildlife. These include ground nesting birds such as curlew, golden plover and hen harrier, red deer, mountain hares, lizards, amphibians, insect-eating sundew plants and a host of invertebrates all of which thrive on peatlands. Peatlands are important for humans too as most of Scotland’s drinking water is filtered through them.

The Environment Systems team’s solution will use our SENCE natural capital evaluation tool, plus satellite data analytics to develop a minimum viable product. This will be an online tool to provide area-based peatland restoration prioritisation to enable policy makers, land owners, contractors and the finance community to pinpoint areas of peatland requiring restoration helping Scotland to transition to net zero and restore one of its most valuable landscapes and significant carbon store.

Sphere Newsletter – Special Net Zero Edition is out!

The Summer 2021 issue of our Sphere newsletter has just been published.

In this special net zero edition we look at some of the work we have been doing both in the UK and internationally to help assess and understand the effects of climate change and bring our world back into balance. The journey to net zero is fraught with difficulty and as we approach the COP 26 climate change conference taking place in Glasgow in November the message is clearer than ever. Not only do we have to achieve the balance that the net zero narrative describes but we also have to seek ways and means to reduce the carbon already in our atmosphere. In other words net zero is just the start and getting there is going to take a huge effort from all of us, governments, agencies, environmental groups and us as individuals.

You can view and download a PDF of Sphere here.

or view the web version here.

Sphere Newsletter – Spring 2021 Published

The Spring 2021 issue of our Sphere newsletter has just been published. This issue is a direct response to the recently published Dasgupta Review and focuses on Natural Capital and more specifically on our own SENCE (Spatial Evidence for Natural Capital Evaluation) technology.

Our economies, livelihoods and well-being all depend on nature, and the accelerating collapse of the natural world is fuelling extreme risk and uncertainty for our economies, our livelihoods, health and well-being. Without an understanding of, and methods for, evaluating our natural capital we cannot move forward with the necessary policies and actions required to protect and invest in our natural world. SENCE was designed to do just that.

You can view and download this latest issue of Sphere here.

Environment Systems Sponsor and Chair Session in UK Overseas Territory Conservation Conference

Environment Systems has been working with the UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) for nearly ten years. These magnificent islands support more biodiversity than the entirety of the UK. The 14 islands lie within three biodiversity hotspots: the Caribbean islands, the Mediterranean basin and the Oceania eco-zone. These areas fall under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the UK although most islands are self-governing. Responsibility for protecting this priceless biodiversity is shared between the UK government and the local government of each territory. We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the people of these wonderful islands, helping to map and model habitats, plus the natural capital and ecosystem services to enable a better understanding of their environments to build resilience and indicate where to site nature based solutions as a way to mitigate risk from climate change and the impacts of natural disasters.

Anguilla storm surge
Anguilla with the strength and extent of the storm surge characterised in red. The light blue areas indicate opportunities for mitigation efforts.

We have been members of the Caribbean working group of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum for over five years. The UKOTCF is holding a conference on the 2nd and 3rd March and the 9th and 10th March from 12-7pm, entitled ‘Staying connected for conservation in a changed world.’ Environment Systems are delighted to be sponsoring the event and Dr Katie Medcalf, our Environment Director is chairing Topic group 4 on ‘Coping with recovery after hurricanes and natural disasters by building resilience.’

This event will bring together practitioners, policy makers and government officials from across the territories to share experience, learning and work towards future goals.

Sphere Winter 2020-21 – Published

The Winter 2020-21 issue of our Sphere newsletter has just been published and it is gratifying to report that we are busy and active well beyond the confines of the UK despite the pandemic. We have been working as far abroad as Australia, the Middle East, Africa, North and Latin America, and the Caribbean. Our technological innovation continues apace as we further extend the range and scope of our activities as one of the UK’s largest downstream Earth observation companies. We can look forward with optimism to the year ahead.

You can view and download this latest issue of Sphere or simply view our web version right here.