Affric Highlands – An ambitious new rewilding initiative

Affric Highlands is an exciting new initiative underpinned by a unique partnership of communities, businesses, private landowners and nature conservation interests across a large Highland landscape. The initiative’s aim is to restore nature at an ambitious landscape scale and catalyse the creation of more sustainable, nature-based livelihoods in the local communities. Over a thirty-year timeframe, we believe this partnership can deliver transformative change for the natural environment, local economy and community wellbeing.

To apply for the role of Field Officer, or learn more about Trees for Life, please download an application form and other documentation from our website.

Salary: £25,169
Duration: 2 year fixed term- (possible extension)
Location: Findhorn and Dundreggan, with home working and travel to locations across the project area.
Hours: 35 per week
Reporting to: Affric Highlands Team Leader
Start Date: TBC

Applications can be submitted to Jobs@treesforlife.org.uk for the attention of Laura Miller.

Deadline for applications: January 3rd 2022 Midday

Interview Dates and Process: January 19th 2022 Via Zoom*

*Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend a two stage process of an initial interview via Zoom and then a second meeting with the wider key liaisons in person or via Zoom.

All applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted or not via email within 14 days of the deadline.

Trees for Life are proud to offer an inclusive, friendly and welcoming environment to work in and applications are welcome from all members of society. We actively seek to remove barriers to employment so If you require information in another format, please contact us.

The Field Officer will be a crucial member of the three-strong Affric Highlands team with a pivotal role in delivering the land use change on which the initiative depends. The primary focus of the role is to develop options for ecological restoration on individual landholdings in the Affric Highlands area. These options will be derived from a combination of available GIS data and field visits. Opportunities may arise to coordinate action across neighbouring land ownerships to maximise the ecological benefits through connectivity or shared work on the ground.

The landowners are a diverse group, including private, public and NGOs, with different priorities, attitudes and interests. The options identified for ecological restoration may vary from single initial steps towards restoration to larger scale programmes of work depending on the landowner’s readiness for change. The quality of our relationships with landowners will be an important factor in delivery, so the options we present must be practical and lead to tangible benefits as far as possible. The Field Officer will therefore work closely with the Affric Highlands Enterprise Manager to identify where ecological restoration can lead to potential sources of revenue from carbon offsetting, biodiversity credits or business development possibilities.

Key Liaisons

The Field Officer will work on a daily basis with the Team Leader and the Enterprise Manager for Affric Highlands, as well as other Trees for Life staff, including our Senior Ecologist. They will also work closely with our partners in Rewilding Europe, including their expanding network of rewilding areas’ teams across Europe who can share their experience of implementing and monitoring landscape scale change. Landowners and land managers, particularly deer managers are a crucial point of contact and there will also be important relationships with Scottish Forestry, NatureScot and private consultancies working with Affric Highlands.

Scope, Accountability and Resources

The Field Officer will be responsible for developing practical options for ecological restoration with land managers in Affric Highlands. They will use GIS datasets and field data to develop and ground truth proposals for nature restoration across the Affric Highlands. Working with the Affric Highlands team, the Field Officer will present the proposed options to land managers, discuss their practical requirements and guide towards support and capacity needed to work through the potential funding application processes.

Key responsibilities

Work in collaboration with land managers

  • Contact and cultivate positive relationships with land managing partners and gain a detailed understanding of their objectives through semi-structured interviews.
  • Through dialogue, consider the practical implications of options for restoration for existing land management practices including deer stalking, livestock grazing, fisheries management and forestry.
  • Work with the Affric Highlands Enterprise Manager to include indicative costs, funding sources and potential revenue streams for each restoration option.
  • Present map-based options for ecological restoration to land managers, including an analysis of the practical requirements and financial balance associated with each option.

Desk-based appraisal of options for ecological restoration

  • Using publicly available datasets and GIS, prepare assessments of the potential for ecological restoration on individual landholdings in the Affric Highlands area.
  • Include the scope for restoring peatland, woodland, montane and transitional habitat in each assessment.
  • Consider those assessments alongside existing habitats or ongoing restoration activity in the neighbouring landscape, seeking opportunities to coordinate activity and maximise ecological benefit.
  • Work as required with consultants, researchers and partners to support the development of Affric Highlands-wide assessments of the potential for ecological restoration, natural capital revenue streams etc.

Ground-truth options for ecological restoration

  • Informed by the desk-based appraisal of potential, undertake field visits to check the appropriateness and practicality of the possible restoration options.
  • Include consideration of soil conditions, presence/absence of seed sources, herbivore populations and current habitat condition.

Develop an Affric Highlands monitoring strategy

  • Working with Rewilding Europe, create a monitoring strategy and establish a baseline for understanding the long-term impacts of ecological restoration actions in Affric Highlands. Contribute to Affric Highlands communication and engagement
  • Provide material on nature recovery in Affric Highlands for social and other media

Contribute to preparing and presenting engagement and education material on nature and its recovery in Affric Highlands.

Person Specification


  • Demonstrable understanding of woodland and upland habitats in the Scottish Highlands and the factors that will promote their ecological restoration.
  • Demonstrable understanding of Scottish land use issues and an appreciation of the different objectives for, and perspectives on, land management in the Highlands.
  • Knowledge of public grants systems for environmental land management in Scotland.
  • Plant and wildlife identification.


  • Proven experience of building and maintaining positive relationships with a range of rural landowners and land managers.
  • A ready willingness to form constructive, forward-looking relationships with people who hold different outlooks and objectives on land management.
  • Proficiency in using GIS to analyse environmental datasets and produce good quality maps for reporting purposes.
  • Experience of field survey methods for assessing the ecological condition of different upland habitats.
  • Experience of considering, and ideally applying, practical land management approaches for ecological restoration.

Skills & Competencies

  • Highly competent using Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  • Competent in the use of GIS software (QGIS) and data management.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills with the ability to produce concise, clear and effective project reports.
  • Ability to work alone outdoors with a conscientious approach to health and safety.

Personal Attributes

  • Ability to work in a collaborative manner as part of the wider Trees for Life team.
  • Enthusiasm for restoration ecology.
  • Resourceful, flexible, solution-focused and able to work on their own initiative.
  • An open approach to communication and ensuring that engagement permeates everything that we do, both internally and externally.
  • This post will require occasional weekend and evening working.
  • Full UK driving licence, travel to remote locations will be necessary.
  • Experience of working outdoors in variable weather conditions across challenging terrain.