What does an environmental scientist do?
Environmental scientists study, develop, implement and advise on policies and plans for managing and protecting the environment, flora, fauna and other natural resources.
Environmental careers in the public sector are generally grouped in the areas of environmental management, research, regulation and policy development. In the private sector, there are also many opportunities for environmental specialists. Private companies, especially those involved with petrol, oil and mining, must incorporate sustainable practices (social, economic and environmental) into all levels of their operations.
Why does an environmental scientist do this?
The growing focus on environmental issues, such as climate change, has led to a considerable expansion in environment-related jobs. Industry, business and government sectors are increasingly recognising the importance of incorporating environmental perspectives into their policy and practice, resulting in a high demand for environmental knowledge and expertise. Environmental careers are often multidisciplinary in nature, which makes them especially flexible, rewarding and interesting. The range of career options in the public and private sectors is broad and not restricted to a specific area.
How does an environmental scientist do their job?
Some typical tasks might include:
- Evaluating habitat, wildlife and fisheries needs, and formulating short and long-term management goals and objectives
- Enforcing laws and regulations to conserve and protect fish and wildlife
- Carrying out environmental impact assessments for a wide range of development projects
- Proposing solutions to address negative environmental impact
- Studying the effects of factors, such as terrain, altitude, climatic and environmental change, sources of nutrition, predators and the impacts of humans, on animal and plant life;
- Studying and analysing pollution, atmospheric conditions, demographic characteristics, ecology, mineral, soil and water samples
- Developing conservation and management policies for biological resources, such as fish populations and forests
- Establishing standards and developing approaches for the control of pollution and the rehabilitation of areas disturbed by activities such as mining, timber felling and overgrazing
- Implementing policies and organising activities in designated parks and other areas to conserve and protect natural and cultural heritage
- Providing environmental information and making inventories of plants, animals and items of cultural and heritage significance.
Undergraduate studies could begin with a Bachelor of Science and studies in the following subjects areas:
- Agricultural Science
- Climate and Weather
- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
- Ecosystem Science
- Environmental Science
- Plant Science
- Plant and Soil Science