Conservation Research Assistant (Volunteer)

Conservation Research Assistant (Volunteer)

Ideal for a motivated, recently qualified individual interested in working within an established international and local research team to carry out fieldwork in a world-renowned biodiversity hotspot. Based in the stunning coastal village of Sainte Luce 40km north of Fort Dauphin, conducting research within the area’s fragmented littoral forest habitats and adjoining coastal habitats. This position affords the opportunity to contribute towards vital in-situ conservation and to participate in the writing of scientific publications. Research Assistants are responsible for leading international teams of short-term volunteers, collecting and analysing data accurately and contributing towards the holistic conservation approach encouraged at SEED Madagascar. This job role involves maintaining a balance between collecting valuable scientific data and ensuring our enthusiastic volunteers are happy and contribute effectively to the programme. After initial training the applicant will also work with the research team to assist in developing and expanding research projects and will be encouraged towards writing scientific papers. This is an excellent opportunity for a recent graduate to gain field experience and the necessary skills essential for a career in conservation.

Location: Sainte Luce, Anosy Region, Madagascar

Timeframe: 12 months extendable

Probationary period: 3 months

Contract: Voluntary, unsalaried

Reporting to: Conservation Research Coordinator

Duties and responsibilities:

The research assistant will work in collaboration with SEED Madagascar’s international and National staff in the following activities;

  1. Organise and lead data collection in the field 
  2. Monitor data collection in the field and ensure the quality of the data 
  3. Assist in setting research objectives and ensuring these are consistently met 
  4. Organise the logistics of the research projects when in the field, including equipment and resource management 
  5. Supervise volunteers during their time in the field and in town, including pastoral care and ad-hoc problem solving
  6. Ensure risk assessments, volunteer guidelines, field orientations and all research protocols are followed at all times
  7. Train volunteers in field research techniques and providing feedback
  8. Ensure good communication and team relations between volunteers, SEED staff and local staff 
  9. Assist in the development of research projects, analysis of data and write up of research papers when required 
  10. Assist the Project development department in technical assistance for reports and proposal writing for conservation programmes
  11. Provide photographs and copy for the website and social media platforms to ensure coverage of the research
  12. Any other tasks the Director of Programmes and Operations or Conservation Research Coordinator deem necessary within the broad remit of this role 

Person Specification:

  • Demonstrate sound knowledge and keen interest in conservation issues
  • A qualification to at least undergraduate level in a conservation discipline
  • Specialist knowledge of either primatology, herpetology, botany or environmental education is desirable 
  • Able to or willing to learn to safely handle and identify reptiles and amphibians 
  • Previous experience of collecting data 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to SEED’s ethos and approach and be a good ambassador for SEED at all times
  • Have passion, curiosity and motivation for the job and the ability to enthuse others
  • Have the ability and desire to work with teams from different economic and cultural backgrounds and across multiple language barriers
  • Have the ability and desire to build capacity and share skills across cultures
  • Demonstrate proven ability to recognise and appropriately deal with challenging situations
  • Demonstrate an awareness of and comfort with increased social and professional responsibility, working at all times with cultural sensitivity and respect
  • Demonstrate the ability, social skills and confidence to give clear guidance and support to other members of the team in respect of the philosophy and procedures of SEED in order to protect both their safety and the reputation of the NGO
  • Have excellent problem-solving skills
  • Working knowledge of GPS and/or GIS is an advantage 
  • First aid certificate 
  • Good degree of fitness for working in difficult terrain under tropical conditions 
  • Ability to spend long periods of time in basic camping conditions 
  • Able to commit for a period of one year minimum 

Pay and conditions:

Food and local transport will be provided whilst in the field. All other costs will need to be covered by the candidate, including accommodation when not in the field.

Application process:

Interested applicants should send a CV and covering letter outlining how their skills and experience match the requirements in the role description criteria and detailing why they wish to be considered for this post to Lisa Bass by email on Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Long-listed applicants will have an initial informal chat with Madagascar based staff and short listed applicants will then be offered a face-to-face interview with the London team in person. More information on the work of SEED can be found at The position will remain open until appropriate candidates are found.

Context of the post within the SEED Conservation Programme:

The SEED Conservation Programme (SCP) accepts international volunteers to help conduct research on the unique flora and fauna of Madagascar’s last remaining fragments of littoral forest. Our research programme focuses on the endemic/endangered communities of Sainte Luce, with a particular focus on lemur research, herpetological study and the monitoring of endangered palm species. Current projects include the long term monitoring of lemur and herpetological fragments, amassing ecological evidence whenever information is lacking, and compiling population densities and spatial/temporal distribution maps. We are currently developing a variety of new projects, including a turtle conservation programme, a comprehensive forest structure study, and undertaking data collection for marine fisheries sustainability.

Habitat sampling and assessment is also a regular activity, alongside the collation of species inventories for each of the nearby forest fragments, with a particular emphasis on the reptile and amphibian, bird and small mammal communities. The SCP team works very closely with the local community to implement lasting community conservation initiatives, such as environmental education in village schools, conservation through English lessons and through the training of local eco-tourism guides.

SEED Madagascar is recruiting a motivated and dynamic individual to work as part of our expanding research team. The successful applicant will help conduct a diverse array of field research on the flora and fauna of Sainte Luce’s littoral forests. The individual will be expected to train and supervise groups of volunteers in research methodologies, ensuring accurate collation of scientific data and managing the day-to-day schedule for the programme. This job role involves maintaining a balance between collecting valuable scientific data and ensuring our enthusiastic volunteers are happy and contribute sufficiently to the programme. After initial training the applicant will also work with the research team to assist in developing and expanding research projects and will be encouraged towards writing scientific papers.

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