Blackstairs Farming Future (BFF) Ecologist Job Specification

Job Type: Part-Time Contract. (~450 days from April 2019 to December 2022).

Location: BFF Office, 6 Irish Street, Bunclody, Co. Wexford.

Report to: Project Coordinator

Salary: Pro rata based on annual salary in the region of €40 k.  

Basic function:  The ecologist will implement, monitor and evaluate the development of a results based agri-environmental payment scheme for approximately seven Blackstairs Commonages and two HNV species rich grassland sites.   

Background: Blackstairs Farming Futures CLG is a recently established company with the object of implementing the BFF pilot project funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the European Innovation Partnerships Initiative that is part of their Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

The Blackstairs Mountains SAC extends to 5,000 ha of open mountain on the border of counties Carlow and Wexford. It contains 17% of Ireland’s European Dry Heath habitat. Research carried out for the Blackstairs Farming Group in 2015 confirmed an almost 50% reduction in farm holders under the age of 44 in Electoral Districts surrounding the Blackstairs Mountains. Data on farm viability indicates a high proportion of unsustainable farms in the Blackstairs area. This combination of an aging farmer population and low farm incomes pose a threat to the achievement of favourable status of the semi- natural habitats and associated species in the Blackstairs Mountains SAC. The project objective is to adopt innovative approaches to add value to the Blackstairs hill farming system whilst simultaneously improving habitat condition.

The BFF pilot proposes to develop and trial four innovations:

1. A Results Based Agri-Environment Payment Scheme for upland habitats and commonage land
2. An effective commonage governance model for Ireland
3. Habitat management for red grouse by commonage farmers in the Blackstairs
4. Wider community engagement in the environment, culture and tradition of farming in the Uplands

Therefore, we are seeking to recruit a highly motivated and enthusiastic ecologist to join the project team.  The ideal candidate should have a strong background in vegetation mapping, upland ecology, GIS, agri-environmental schemes, stakeholder management and reporting.   Experience with agri-environmental schemes would be very desirable.  The successful candidate will be fully supported by the BFF Project Team and relevant members of the BFF Project Operational and Advisory Groups.

Main Duties & Responsibilities: 

1. Compile and deliver a GIS database of relevant biodiversity data for seven Blackstiars commonages.  Data will include existing conservation designation status e.g. Natura 2000, other national and local designations, species and habitat distribution data, and national and locally available monitoring data. 
2. The setting of biodiversity goals for seven selected commonages and two HNV species rich grassland sites. The goals will combine the legislative requirements, policy objectives, commonage shareholder goals and local stakeholder opinion.
3. The setting of eligibility criteria to identify habitats that can deliver biodiversity goals.  
4. The selection, testing and development of indicators for the Ecological Assessment Scoring System or a simplified ecosystem scoring system (Field Scoring System) for the project. 
5. Assist the BFF Project Team with the preparation of draft outlines of guidance documents for participating shareholders and farmers with the best management practices and guidelines for improving habitat scores.  
6. Contribute to the development of a farmer payment regime based on the Field Scoring System developed and agreed with the BFF Project Team.
7. Conduct the initial or baseline field scoring of the seven participating commonages and the two HNV species-rich grassland areas. Discussing the scores with the participating shareholder/farmers and the BFF Project Team and agreeing with them the range of options available to improve the score through the implementation of appropriate management strategies. 
8. Conduct the annual assessments and scoring of the seven participating commonages in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and review the results with participating farmers and BFF Project Team members. Conduct annual assessments and scoring of the participating commonages and the two HNV species-rich grassland areas in 2021 and 2022 and review the results with participating shareholders/farmers and BFF Project Team.
9. The provision of draft progress reports and a final report as agreed with the BFF Project Team.
Person Specification


Essential: Candidates must have an honours level 8 degree in ecology or related discipline
Desirable: A post graduate degree and/or experience in ecology, conservation and farmland management, GIS would be a distinct advantage. 



• Proven experience in the securing habitat datasets and the production and presentation of concise maps. 
• Proven knowledge of legislative requirements (e.g. EU habitats Directive and Water Framework Directive and Irish Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012) and policy objectives.
• Proven knowledge of Annex 1 habitats (e.g. 4010 Wet heath, 4030 Dry heath, 7130 Blanket bog) and other extensively managed HNV semi-natural habitats
• GIS mapping and data analysis, reporting, interpersonal, communication and organisational skills.


• Experience with upland terrestrial and aquatic habitats.
• Experience with results based agri-environmental payment schemes would be very advantageous.
• Experience of working with farmers and commonage shareholders



• Upland ecology and habitats and their management.
• Habitat restoration strategies.


• Upland farming systems

Behavioural Competencies

• Ability to work as part of team.  
• Strives for high quality work.  
• Ability to communicate effectively to enable knowledge transfer. 
• Flexible in approach to working time


Please download the application from that is attached to the bottom of this job description. Completed application forms should be typed and saved in pdf format and submitted by email to  no later than 12.00 March 25th, 2019.

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