Job Purpose: To provide support to BGCI’s International Plant Sentinel Network.
Contract Type: Full-time
Duration: Fixed-term, two years
Location: BGCI Offices, Kew, London (flexible working arrangements possible)
Remuneration: £20-25,000 per annum, depending on experience

Position Summary

BGCI is looking to recruit a Conservation Assistant Officer to support the International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN), and to carry out research into the exchange of plant material between botanic gardens as part of a Darwin Initiative project. The IPSN facilitates collaboration amongst institutes around the world, with a focus on linking botanic gardens and arboreta, National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs), and plant health scientists. These institutes work together in order to provide an early warning system of new and emerging pest and pathogen risks. The Darwin Initiative project ‘Responsible exchange of plant genetic resources to support sustainable development’ aims to quantify and characterise the exchange of plant material between scientific institutions, and facilitate exchange through the development of (a) a digital exchange platform, and (b) flagging Access and Benefit-Sharing, biosecurity and CITES compliance requirements when sharing plant material and data.

About BGCI

There are an estimated 2,500 botanic gardens and arboreta in the world attracting 750 million visitors each year. Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) is at the centre of this network. Our members include the largest, most renowned gardens on the planet – Kew, New York, Missouri, Singapore, Sydney and Shanghai – and they also include many smaller gardens situated in the world’s plant diversity hotspots. All of these member gardens share a commitment to making sure that no plant species becomes extinct, and they have a combined workforce of many thousands of horticulturists and scientists working towards that end.

BGCI’s mission is to mobilise botanic gardens and engage partners in securing plant diversity for the well-being of people and the planet. Our theory of change is that by leading, influencing, and empowering our membership and partners, we can better conserve plant diversity, encourage people to live in an environmentally sustainable way, and provide benefits for people as well as the ecology of the planet. Specifically, BGCI’s network of specialists will be mobilised to carry out plant conservation prioritisation, planning, action, and monitoring, thereby preventing plant species extinctions and promoting sustainability.

BGCI’s goal is that botanical organisations in our network will play a critical role in preventing plant species extinctions and create a more sustainable planet. Our work towards achievement of the goal can be broken down into the following work streams.

BGCI’s work towards achievement of the goal can be broken down into the following work streams: Saving Plants, Inspiring and Leading People, Sharing Knowledge and Resources, Addressing Global Challenges through Public Engagement and Education, and Ensuring an Effective and Resilient BGCI.

Detailed Position Description

Funded by Defra, and with diagnostic support from Fera, the IPSN utilises botanic garden collections for research. The IPSN has various funded projects that it is currently delivering focused on pest and disease surveillance, monitoring, training, and awareness raising amongst botanic garden staff.

Under the supervision of the IPSN officer, the Conservation Assistant Officer (IPSN) will support the delivery of project activities.

The role will involve:

  1. Developing resources
    • Creating training materials including videos, guidelines, and online course content with a focus on exchange of plant material, biosecurity, and pest and disease monitoring, Access and Benefit-Sharing, and CITES compliance.
    • Carrying out a survey of the exchange and use of botanic garden/arboreta collections
    • Supporting compliance certification applications with guidance documentation
  2. Communication
    • Communication with IPSN members and project participants
    • Maintaining and updating the website
    • Managing the IPSN twitter account
    • Promoting the network and identifying new members
  3. Coordination and network support
    • Supporting the organisation of national and international meetings and training events
    • Assisting with administration of partner contracts and membership
    • Supporting the development of a UK biosecurity and pest monitoring network

Person Specification

Candidates for this post will have a biological degree, and an interest in policy, bioinformatics, communication, and/or plant health and biosecurity. The post holder will demonstrate sensitivity to complex, multicultural, and multinational institutions and structures.


  • A BSc or equivalent qualification in conservation, environment, plant pathology or another relevant discipline
  • Experience of science communication, web site editing, databases, and report writing
  • Self-motivated, flexible and able to work independently
  • An interest in plant sciences or plant health
  • Strong editing and writing skills in English
  • Experience in interacting with international organisations and individuals


  • Experience and knowledge of plant pests and diseases
  • Experience of working with botanic gardens
  • Knowledge of languages other than English

Application Process

Interested applicants should submit a CV and a cover letter of two pages maximum, explaining the candidate’s motivation and providing concrete evidence of why they are suitable for the position.

Please send your CV and cover letter to info@bgci.org

Closing date for applications is 1st July 2022.

BGCI is committed to putting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of our organisation. We are committed to ensuring a working environment in which all individuals are free from discrimination and in which opportunities are equal to all. We encourage applications from all sections of the community, particularly those underrepresented within our sector.