Conservation Scientist

Nature and ecosystem services supports all life on earth, intrinsically and through providing for subsistence, livelihoods and natural resources for production and consumption. Biodiversity loss, the result of unprecedented development compromises ecosystems and the services through which life is sustained. Ongoing biodiversity assessments highlight potential threats and opportunities to minimise impact on biodiversity and loss of these critical ecosystem services.

Conservation scientists undertake research and develop and implement programs for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. They research the interactions between humans and ecosystems and decide on the systems, tools and infrastructure to be used for the management and restoration of priority conservation sites. A conservation scientist can also conduct environmental impact studies to examine the ecological effects of pollutants, diseases, human activities, nature and climate change on specific areas.

Conservation scientists collaborate with specialist professionals and site managers to supervise conservation projects. They often undertake fieldwork and could also work in a laboratory and office environment processing reports and preparing recommendations for policy and legislation.


Conservation scientists need a thorough and extensive knowledge of biodiversity and ecology. They could also benefit from a background in related policies and:

  • Strong analytical and problem-solving ability
  • Ability to carry out fieldwork and laboratory processes
  • Extensive research competence
  • Good verbal and written communication and presentation skills


Conduct research and perform field and laboratory analysis of samples

Develop conservation plans and coordinate the implementation of environmental management systems

Assess the compliance and impact of proposed projects

Provide technical advice and conservation support services 


B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Environmental Science at NMU, RU, UCT, UJ, UKZN, UMP, UP, UWC and Wits

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Geography specialising in Environmental Studies at all universities

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Biological Sciences at all universities

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Nature Conservation at CPUT, MUT, NMU, TUT, UMP and UNISA


National, provincial and local government.

NGOs, and private consultancies.

Research institutions.

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