Disclaimer: this article covers my Personal biased experience of working in conservation.
Now this might be a subject that interests a few people.
There are several branches to working in Conservation. But I will be talking about what I have the most experience in.
The physical labour of conservation work is highly seasonal, due entirely to weather and contracts. Most people in this branch of the industry are casual workers who will have absolutely no work during the Summer to late Autumn. So for about 4 – 5 months of the year, there is no work.
This is where a lot of people start before moving on, where a lot of people become stuck and where some people willingly stay. Because of the highly seasonal work there really is not that much opportunity for full-time employment in this branch of conservation.
Some people in this part and others will gain (become trapped, depending on your view) in the “full-time casual” position. Meaning you will have Full-time hours, but you will not be getting sick leave or annual leave. Every hour you are not working is an hour you are not getting paid. Even when you have a crippling flu.
And it is this part of the industry where you will experience the most strain on your body. Hand weeding pelargonium and pigface, working in the cold rain and the delirium inducing heat. In 100% humidity I might add. Planting in pure rock, steep sand dunes that make your knees dislocate and worst of all. Walking through that ungodly hell plant Acacia pulchella.
A lot of people don’t realise how hard Conservation work is. Most people just want the rewards of this field without putting in any work. One reward for this all this hard work is, you gain extremely valuable experience in addition to the skills and job referrals.
Around May – September I will always see wildflowers, and lots of them. I will even see quite a few orchids and uncommon plant species I would otherwise not normally encounter. Not only that I also get to work in some pretty nice locations, excluded from the public.
And almost all the people you work with will have a similar interest in their work. So you end up also making some nice friends as well.
Written by Mathew. W