Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Edinburgh, Edinburgh
Sandy, Central Bedfordshire
£34,643 - £38,632 per annum
Permanent, Full-time
Job description


Principal Conservation Scientist - International
Location: Flexible
Salary: £34,643.00 - £38,632.00 Per Annum
Benefits: Pension, Life Assurance, 26 days Annual Leave

We are seeking a Principal Conservation Scientist to develop and take forward a broad portfolio of applied ecological research in support of RSPB’s international conservation objectives and collaborate closely with BirdLife International, and BirdLife partners. Depending on skills and experience, you will develop, manage, or contribute to work in the following areas: conservation of globally threatened species, site based conservation, global commodities consumed in the UK (e.g. cocoa), land use and land cover change (especially along the east Atlantic Flyway), international conventions and conservation legislation, and nature based solutions.

You will be a nationally or internationally recognised scientist with a track record of publishing in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. You will have experience of designing and delivering scientific studies, and of winning external research funding. You will demonstrate an aptitude to build and maintain effective working relationships both within the RSPB and with external partners including universities and research institutes, but also key conservation organisations and project specific stakeholder groups. You will develop a scientific programme to underpin the key conservation challenges and opportunities facing the RSPB internationally, relating to species conservation, site conservation and landscape and regional scale land cover change and conservation planning.

This is an exciting opportunity for a conservation scientist to contribute to RSPB’s international conservation science programme at a crucial time in the biodiversity and climate crises.

The location of this role has flexibility, with the post being based in RSPB offices in one of Cambridge, The Lodge, or in Edinburgh. Although advertised as a full time position, we will consider applicants who wish to work part time.

What is the role about?

  • Informing and steering a research programme in multiple fields that will inform RSPB’s international conservation policy and practice.
  • Through impactful scientific communication, providing scientific advice and enhance RSPB’s scientific reputation through the production of peer reviewed science.
  • Being RSPB's expert in focal areas, developing and maintaining scientific and technical expertise in those specialist areas, to identify emerging issues and associated research questions, to underpin RSPB's conservation activity.
  • Designing, costing and managing the delivery of multiple projects, to provide the evidence base to underpin RSPB's conservation activity and minimise the reputational risk of lack of evidence underpinning our work.
  • Recruiting, managing, and developing multiple staff across all grades up to senior conservation scientist (and volunteers and students), to ensure the RSPB has the knowledge and skills required to deliver excellence in conservation science, and develop capacity at all levels, including in partners.
  • Identifying, building and maintaining effective relationships with external partners, particularly universities, research institutes, government and NGOs in the UK and internationally and knowledge of BirdLife International and the BirdLife partnership.
  • Working closely and contribute to the functioning of the International Conservation Science team and the RSPBs Centre for Conservation Science.
  • A high level of engagement and provision of scientific advice and to the wider RSPB policy and practice communities and BirdLife International.

What we need from you:


  • Extensive post-PhD experience as a scientist, managing scientific projects, budgets and staff and a broad knowledge of conservation issues and practice, and conservation science.
  • Ability to effectively manage multiple line reports and several projects, good interpersonal skills, and knowledge of key legal and practical requirements for ensuring health and safety of staff and volunteers, sometimes in difficult field conditions, for instance tropical rainforests.
  • Ability to be self motivated and work efficiently and to prioritise own working schedule. This necessitates the ability to plan and organise their own work and manage the work of others they are line-managing.
  • Specialist and up–to–date knowledge of  statistical analysis and modelling to enable innovative, robust analysis and interpretation of any type and size of data set and good knowledge of at least one programming language (e.g. R, Python, JavaScript)
  • Collecting, collating, manipulating, analysing large and complex data-sets that can pass international peer-reviewed standards of scrutiny and audit.
  • Ability to influence others through production of high impact written material: for example peer– reviewed papers in scientific journals (demonstrable outstanding track record of scientific publication in internationally recognised journals), reports to funders, books and book chapters, but also written material for any media channel with a demonstrable outstanding track record of scientific publication in internationally recognised journals.
  • Knowledge and proven success of how best to win external and internal funding, for both UK and International work.


  • Broad and deep knowledge of UK and international species ecology and ecological principles.
  • Knowledge of how to provide strategic leadership and guidance on multiple fields for the organisation.
  • Good interpersonal skills in order to develop and maintain excellent relations with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Novel advanced scientific techniques to be learned and applied as necessary, in particular skills relating to mapping and modelling land cover and land cover change.
  • Ability to train and coach others in complex data collection techniques in sometimes difficult conditions in the UK or abroad.

Closing date: 23:59, 28 March 2021

To Apply and for More Information:

If you would like to apply and find out more about this position, please click the apply button to be directed to our website where you can complete your application for this position. 

No agencies please.

Posted on: 05 March 2021
Closed date: 28 March 2021
Job ref: 156568_RB
Tags: Policy/Research, Project Management