Conservation Scientist/Forester IV
Master conservation scientist or forester. Manages overall land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources. May provide consultation on complex projects and is considered the top-level contributor/specialist. Relies on extensive experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. Defines goals for given research projects. Demonstrates expertise in a variety of the field’s concepts, practices, and procedures. May serve as a consultant. A very wide degree of creativity and latitude is expected. Highly knowledgeable with a variety of the field’s concepts, practices, and procedures. Analyzes existing methodologies, formulates hypotheses, modifies existing procedures, and develops novel procedures for biological and/or other supporting scientific disciplines. Performs a variety of complicated tasks. Typically reports to a manager or head of a unit/department. Leads and directs the work of others. May train others. Spends less than 80% of work time on supervisory/managerial duties.
- Conservation Scientists. Manage, improve, and protect natural resources to maximize their use without damaging the environment. May conduct soil surveys and develop plans to eliminate soil erosion or to protect rangelands. May instruct farmers, agricultural production managers, or ranchers in best ways to use crop rotation, contour plowing, or terracing to conserve soil and water; in the number and kind of livestock and forage plants best suited to particular ranges; and in range and farm improvements, such as fencing and reservoirs for stock watering.
- Soil and Water Conservationists. Plan or develop coordinated practices for soil erosion control, soil or water conservation, or sound land use.
- Range Managers. Research or study range land management practices to provide sustained production of forage, livestock, and wildlife.
- Park Naturalists. Plan, develop, and conduct programs to inform public of historical, natural, and scientific features of national, state, or local park.
- Foresters. Manage public and private forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes. May inventory the type, amount, and location of standing timber, appraise the timber’s worth, negotiate the purchase, and draw up contracts for procurement. May determine how to conserve wildlife habitats, creek beds, water quality, and soil stability, and how best to comply with environmental regulations. May devise plans for planting and growing new trees, monitor trees for healthy growth, and determine optimal harvesting schedules.
Examples of Work
Job functions are specific duties that would be included in the essential functions of the job description. These functions are not all-inclusive nor do they cover the full extent of the duties performed.
- Study grazing patterns to determine number and kind of livestock that can be most profitably grazed and to determine the best grazing seasons; study rangeland management practices and research range problems to provide sustained production of forage, livestock, and wildlife
- Study different tree species’ classification, life history, light and soil requirements, adaptation to new environmental conditions, and resistance to disease and insects; study forage plants and their growth requirements to determine varieties best suited to particular range
- Review grant applications or make funding recommendations
- Develop, conduct, or participate in surveys, studies, or investigations of various land uses to inform corrective action plans; develop or conduct environmental studies, such as plant material field trials or wildlife habitat impact studies
- Initiate, schedule, or conduct annual audits or compliance checks of program implementation by local government
- Plan and direct surveys and related studies and prepare reports and recommendations
- Survey park/forest/range land to determine forest conditions and distribution and abundance of fauna and flora; monitor wildlife populations and assess the impacts of operations on population and habitats
- Contact local forest owners and gain permission to take inventory of the type, amount, and location of all standing timber on the property; map forest area soils and vegetation to estimate the amount of standing timber and future value and growth
- Survey property to mark locations or measurements, using surveying instruments
- Research stories regarding the area’s natural history or environment
- Measure and assess vegetation resources for biological assessment companies, environmental impact statements, and rangeland monitoring programs
- Monitor forest-cleared lands to ensure that they are reclaimed to their most suitable end use
- Monitor projects during or after construction to ensure projects conform to design specifications; monitor contract compliance and results of forestry activities to assure adherence to government regulations
- Visit areas affected by erosion problems to identify causes or determine solutions
- Perform inspections of forests or forest nurseries
- Apply principles of specialized fields of science, such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, or agriculture, to achieve conservation objectives
- Evaluate or recommend geographic information systems (GIS) applications to address issues such as surface water quality, groundwater quality, ecological risk assessments, air quality, or environmental contamination; gather information from GIS databases or applications to formulate land use recommendations
- Compile or interpret biodata to determine extent or type of wetlands or to aid in program formulation
- Enter local soil, water, or other environmental data into adaptive or web-based decision tools to identify appropriate analyses or techniques
- Analyze effect of forest conditions on tree growth rates and tree species prevalence and the yield, duration, seed production, growth viability, and germination of different species
- Analyze results of investigations to determine measures needed to maintain or restore proper soil management
- Review annual reports of counties, conservation districts, or watershed management organizations, certifying compliance with mandated reporting requirements
- Revisit land users to view implemented land use practices or plans
- Interview specialists in desired fields to obtain and develop data for park information programs
- Take photographs and motion pictures for use in lectures and publications and to develop displays; compile and maintain official photographic and information files
- Participate on work teams to plan, develop, or implement programs or policies for improving environmental habitats, wetlands, or groundwater or soil resources
- Develop water conservation or harvest plans, using weather information systems, irrigation information management systems, or other sources of daily evapotranspiration (ET) data; review or approve amendments to comprehensive local water plans or conservation district plans
- Develop technical standards and specifications used to manage, protect and improve the natural resources of range lands and related grazing lands
- Develop methods for protecting range from fire and rodent damage and for controlling poisonous plants
- Develop new and improved instruments and techniques for activities such as range reseeding
- Develop new techniques for wood or residue use
- Develop techniques for measuring and identifying trees
- Determine methods of cutting and removing timber with minimum waste and environmental damage
- Identify or recommend integrated weed and pest management (IPM) strategies, such as resistant plants, cultural or behavioral controls, soil amendments, insects, natural enemies, barriers, or pesticides
- Plan soil management or conservation practices, such as crop rotation, reforestation, permanent vegetation, contour plowing, or terracing, to maintain soil or conserve water
- Compute design specifications for implementation of conservation practices, using survey or field information technical guides or engineering manuals
- Tailor conservation plans to landowners’ goals, such as livestock support, wildlife, or recreation
- Review proposed wetland restoration easements or provide technical recommendations
- Compute cost estimates of different conservation practices, based on needs of land users, maintenance requirements, or life expectancy of practices
- Calculate or compare efficiencies associated with changing from low precision irrigation technologies, such as furrow irrigation, to high-precision technologies, such as computer-controlled systems
- Establish short- and long-term plans for management of forest lands and forest resources; plan and implement projects for conservation of wildlife habitats and soil and water quality
- Plan and direct construction and maintenance of recreation facilities, fire towers, trails, roads and bridges, ensuring that they comply with guidelines and regulations set for forested public lands; perform routine maintenance on park structures; plan and direct construction and maintenance of range improvements such as fencing, corrals, stock-watering reservoirs and soil-erosion control structures
- Plan cutting programs and manage timber sales from harvested areas, assisting companies to achieve production goals; subcontract with loggers or pulpwood cutters for tree removal and to aid in road layout
- Plan and supervise forestry projects, such as determining the type, number and placement of trees to be planted, managing tree nurseries, thinning forest and monitoring growth of new seedlings; choose and prepare sites for new trees, using controlled burning, bulldozers, or herbicides to clear weeds, brush, and logging debris
- Procure timber from private landowners
- Implement soil or water management techniques, such as nutrient management, erosion control, buffers, or filter strips, in accordance with conservation plans
- Regulate grazing, and help ranchers plan and organize grazing systems in order to manage, improve and protect rangelands and maximize their use
- Manage private livestock operations
- Manage forage resources through fire, herbicide use, or revegetation to maintain a sustainable yield from the land; plan and implement revegetation of disturbed sites
- Maintain soil stability and vegetation for non-grazing uses, such as wildlife habitats and outdoor recreation
- Prepare brochures, pamphlets, and newspaper articles
- Develop or maintain working relationships with local government staff or board members; provide information, knowledge, expertise, or training to government agencies at all levels to solve problems or to assure coordination of resource protection activities; coordinate or implement technical, financial, or administrative assistance programs for local government units to ensure efficient program implementation or timely responses to requests for assistance
- Advise land users, such as farmers or ranchers, on plans, problems, or alternative conservation solutions; advise rangeland users on water management, forage production methods, and control of brush; or provide advice and recommendations, as a consultant on forestry issues, to private woodlot owners, firefighters, government agencies, or companies
- Respond to complaints or questions on jurisdiction, providing information or clarification
- Conduct fact-finding or mediation sessions among government units, landowners, or other agencies to resolve disputes; mediate agreements among rangeland users and preservationists as to appropriate land use and management; negotiate terms and conditions of agreements and contracts for forest harvesting, forest management and leasing of forest lands
- Provide access to programs or training to assist in completion of government protection plans
- Conduct public educational programs on forest care, land care, and conservation; prepare and present illustrated lectures and interpretive talks; plan and develop audio-visual devices for public programs; conduct field trips to point out scientific, historic, and natural features of parks, forests, historic sites, or other attractions
- Provide visitor services, such as explaining regulations, answering visitor requests, needs and complaints, and providing information about the park and surrounding areas; construct historical, scientific, and nature visitor-center displays; assist with operations of general facilities, such as visitor centers
- Perform emergency duties to protect human life, government property, and natural resources; direct, and participate in, forest fire suppression
- Manage field offices or involve staff in cooperative ventures
- Plan, organize, and direct activities of permanent and seasonal staff members/workers
- Confer with park staff to determine subjects and schedules for park programs
Education and Experience
Doctoral degree in forestry, agricultural science, rangeland management, environmental science, or a closely related field and eight years of experience in the field or in a related area; or master’s degree in forestry, agricultural science, rangeland management, environmental science, or a closely related field and eleven years of experience in the field or in a related area; or bachelor’s degree in forestry, agricultural science, rangeland management, environmental science, or a closely related field and thirteen years of experience in the field or in a related area.
Licensure and Certification
This position may include supervisory responsibility.
To see common career pathways for each position at the University of Florida please visit the Career Paths section of the UFHR website.