Landscape Recovery Manager

The Upper Axe CIC (The Magdalen Environmental Trust)

Chard, Somerset
£35,000 - £40,000 pa

Paid • Full or Part Time • Temporary

Sectors: water & hydrology, food, farming & horticulture

Closing date: Not specified, apply soon!

The River Axe needs some work

Flowing through the borderlands of Dorset, Somerset and Devon, the Axe boasts an SAC and a suite of SSSIs, but its habitat value is surprisingly limited, and after heavy rain, the water can be thick with silt and phosphates. The channel is so wide and so deep that even in spate the river rarely floods. All its destructive energy stays within the banks, leading to ever more erosion and turbidity. This poor and deteriorating condition is likely to be due to a mixture of natural and manmade causes.

But all is not lost. There is a strong will to save the Axe and the habitats it supports, and this is represented in the DEFRA funded Landscape Recovery project. The project has been running since early 2023 and has made considerable progress. 30 farms and estates are project partners in a single strategy of land use transformation, habitat creation and river restoration. The project operates to nature’s timescale – 20 years minimum, and has the potential not only to significantly improve the local environment in and around the Axe, but also to act as a template for on how to fix a broken lowland river.

The project has 2 distinct phases:

  • The Development Phase 2023-2024, (this is where we are now), in which a single coherent plan will be developed across the project area for environmental improvements and sustainability, and for social outcomes and incentives for the project partners. The plan will be well researched, costed, and with principal contractors identified and budgets agreed. Private sector investment will be secured, or routes to this investment will be identified. It will end with a submission to DEFRA for approval to go on to…
  • The Implementation Phase in which capital works will be carried out, social outcomes will be delivered and the project will be monitored evaluated. Further private sector funding is likely to be needed throughout this period. We anticipate this will go on for 25 years.

We are now seeking a Manager to help the project team complete the Project Development Phase, culminating in an inspiring detailed proposal to DEFRA for long term investment, and the provision of long term support for sustainable land use in the catchment.

Project Aim:

To unite farmers, landowners and communities to take collective action to restore a vibrant, resilient freshwater ecosystem to the river Axe, while also improving the sustainability of food production and community engagement with their natural environment.

Hours We are open to either full time (37.5 hours per week) or part time employment.

Location The post is based in the office at the Magdalen Environmental Trust, (TA204PA). The post holder is expected to travel locally around the partner farms, and on occasion, further afield for meetings.

Remuneration £35,000 - £40,000 per year, pro rata (£2,916 – £3,333 per month at full time)

Duration  This should be considered a temporary post, with the good potential of becoming permanent.

Currently, the post is funded until the end of December 2024, although Defra have committed to a limited extension in this funding (estimated 3 months) during which time we will negotiate the arrangements for the following 20+ years.

Assuming we are successful in forming an agreement with Defra, new job roles will be created to carry out the project’s Implementation Phase, and there is the strong potential that the Manager will have a skills set that is transferrable to one of these positions.

How to apply

We are taking applications on the application form in our recruitment pack, which you can find via this link:

There is no closing date for this position – we will keep it open until we have found and appointed the right candidate. We appreciate this puts pressure on applicants to apply quickly, so if you would prefer to send a quick email stating that you intend to apply, before putting the work into the application, you are welcome to do so.

Job Description

Day to day coordination of the Axe Landscape Recovery Project, including the work of a range of partners and subcontractors.

Collaborating with others on the project team in order to complete the remaining Development Phase objectives:

  • Come to agreements with landowners that support sustainable farming and environmental outcomes
  • Liaison between riverbank landowners and contractors assessing and quoting for in-channel river restoration works

Maintain communications with our steering group and stakeholder agencies, and open a dialogue with local authority Planning departments.

Work with the company Director on preparations for the Implementation Phase, which will start in 2025.

Make arrangements with key organisations the community engagement, including already identified local community groups and farms with educational specialisms (with support if required).

Assist with writing, and gathering information for, the 6 interlinked proposals required by Defra

  • Land Management Plan
  • Business and Blended Finance Plan
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Plan
  • Site Access Plan
  • Stakeholder Engagement Plan
  • Project Management and Governance Plan

Person Specification 

Essential criteria

  • Excellent interpersonal skills, empathy and confidence in communicating.
  • An understanding of people, empathy with their views and with the ability to inspire new ideas. Strong negotiation skills.
  • Demonstrable ability to pull together large volumes of complex information, summarise them, form conclusions and follow up on those conclusions
  • Meticulous and able to work independently to a very high standard.
  • IT literate in Microsoft Office applications
  • A driver with access to a vehicle, able to drive in connection with employment

Desirable criteria

  • Understanding of environmental issues and sustainability, particularly in relation to farming and freshwater ecology.
  • Experience and / or demonstrable skills in private sector fundraising, encouraging strategic relationships with profit-making companies.
  • Demonstrable ability to plan and coordinate a long term, large scale and multi-faceted capital projects
  • Experience of managing a budget and procuring & managing contractors
  • Demonstrable skills and experience in using social media
  • Understanding of, and experience in:
    • Farming
    • River and riparian ecology
    • Ecology in the farmed landscape
    • Funding for environmental & social projects
    • Volunteering projects and community engagement

Good luck and I look forward to reading your application.

Giles Aspinall, Director