Residential Practical Conservation volunteer intern (South East England, Wales & Northern England)

Residential Practical Conservation Volunteer Internships 

NB. The role description below gives details of our volunteer internship in South East England (Surrey & kent), but we also have volunteer internship opportunities in Northern England and Wales. See our website for more details:

Accommodation is provided free of charge for all of our residential internships.

Overall purpose of the role

The South East England Internship is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable experience of delivering conservation on the ground at three very different RSPB reserves. There is an excellent range of habitats across the selection of reserves; giving interns the best chance of finding employment in the conservation sector. This opportunity is a dual-placement, spending 6 months at two of the following reserves: Northward Hill, Dungeness and Farnham Heath.

In this role you will gain:

  • Excellent practical experience of reserve management. Habitats include grazing marsh, woodland, scrub, reedbed, shingle, saline lagoons and heathland
  • Practical training/ experience as necessary for the role, which may include: brushcutter, chainsaw, ATV, off-road driving and pesticide certificates
  • Emergency first aid at work training
  • Experience of working as part of a reserve team
  • Experience leading volunteer groups
  • A working knowledge of the RSPB and conservation issues
  • Visitor engagement experience including events and production of PR material
  • Free accommodation in stunning surroundings on the reserves
  • Training on CV writing and interview techniques, career coaching, access to RSPB internal vacancies and a reference on successful completion of your placement
  • A dedicated mentor who will monitor your progress and help you with personal development

Main duties

Assisting the reserve team to carry out the weekly work programme of habitat management & estate work, which may include:

  • Summer & winter reed management
  • Forestry and scrub management
  • Grassland management
  • Management of artificial islands and scrapes
  • Heathland management
  • Ditch and water level management
  • Maintaining infrastructure including fences, gates, stiles, paths, bridges and boardwalks
  • Predator fence maintenance and repairs

Collecting and collating biological records, which may include;

  • Regular counts and census work of breeding, wintering and passage wildfowl and waders
  • Woodland breeding bird surveys
  • Heathland breeding bird survey
  • Monitoring of individual species such as lapwing, redshank, bittern, long-eared owl and bearded tit
  • Monitoring of non-avian taxa e.g. moth trapping, water vole, butterflies, bumblebees, field crickets reptiles and amphibians
  • Monitoring water levels
  • Predator monitoring on grassland sites
  • Bird ringing (in your own time
  • Inputting data into relevant spreadsheets and websites

Assisting as part of a small team in reserve upkeep, day to day management and admin tasks, such as;

  • Organising the weekly work programme
  • Supervising day volunteers
  • Carrying out nature trail safety audits
  • Maintaining visitor facilities e.g. car park and toilets
  • Managing Quality Assurance checks to maintain high standards of health & safety
  • Acting as duty warden on some weekends
  • Maintaining/ updating any monitoring records
  • Carrying out machinery and vehicle maintenance
  • Management of small projects and surveys, dependent on reserve requirements

Promotion / People engagement tasks. NB. Whilst at Dungeness these tasks would amount to approximately 15% of your time, up to 10% at Northward Hill and 20% at Farnham Heath)

  • Assisting with reserve events and guided walks when required
  • Writing blogs for reserve community pages
  • Preparing reports and articles for reserve newsletters as needed
  • Engaging with visitors and answering any queries, occasionally by phone
  • Preparing temporary interpretation for reserves as required

Skills required


  •  18 years old or over
  • Available for the full 12 months
  • Have achieved A-levels or equivalent
  • An interest in wildlife and conservation
  • A willingness to undertake strenuous manual labour outside in all weathers
  • The ability to work in a team and a strong work ethic
  • Enthusiasm and flexibility
  • Confident and friendly manner
  • Ability to actively listen to others and follow instructions
  • Ability to use your own initiative
  • IT literate
  • A full driving license is also required for this role to drive reserve vehicles, and training could include off-road driving and/or tractor


  • Basic wildlife identification skills
  • Degree in a relevant subject
  • Previous experience of practical work on a nature reserve


This scheme is designed to give you the training and experience needed for a career in practical conservation. At the start of your placement you and your line manager will create your personal development plan, which will take into account skills and experience you wish to develop throughout your time with us. You will have regular meetings to review your progression and anything else you or your line manager wish to discuss. To get the most out of the internship, it is also important that you take advantage of the opportunities that will arise during the placement to learn new skills, gain new experiences and increase your conservation knowledge. Support in application writing and interview techniques will be provided as part of your training and development.

How to Apply

To apply, please download an application from the Information page of our website at, or if this is not possible please email

Closing dates for applications 14th July 2019

Please apply to your preferred region or country. If successful, you must be prepared to be placed at any reserve in your chosen region or country, however any preferences for particular reserves will be taken into account where possible

Please return your application form by email to

Or by post to: Residential Volunteer Interns, Volunteering Development Department, RSPB UK Headquarters, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL

Successful applicants will be invited to interview to take place in late July for start dates in September 2019


Please mention when applying for this job!

Key Information


Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)


Fixed Term


Full Time




Biodiversity, Conservation, Countryside & Land Management, Ecology, Environment, Nature & Wildlife


Surrey & Kent, United Kingdom

Application Deadline:

14th July 2019 at 5:00pm

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