Conservation Planning Specialist; New York, NY (Flexible)

New York City, New York (US)
Oct 18, 2017
Dec 17, 2017
Job Level
Mid level
Employment Type
Salary Type

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. WCS seeks to conserve the world's largest and most ecologically intact wild places. These places are home to more than 50 percent of the world's biodiversity and sustain over 300 million of the world's poorest people.


Position, Location: Conservation Planning Specialist; New York, NY (Flexible)

Department, Division: Conservation Solutions, Global Conservation Program

Reports to: Hedley Grantham, Director, Conservation Planning

Position Objectives:

The Conservation Planning Specialist at WCS is responsible for supporting spatial planning activities and promoting best practice in the field of conservation decision-making in WCS’s 16 priority regions around the world. The ideal candidate will be well-versed in the principles of systematic conservation planning and have extensive experience applying those principles to enable decision makers to make better choices and greater conservation impact around the world in terms of protected areas, land- and sea-use planning, and mitigation planning.  

The conservation planning team sits within the Conservation Solutions (“CS”) division of WCS.  CS applies world-class science to enable novel conservation solutions at globally important sites for biodiversity and to advance policy solutions at multiple scales.  The model of the conservation planning team is:

  • Testing and Piloting “Big Ideas” on conservation planning applications – developing proof-of-concept methods and paradigm-shifting ideas to benefit WCS and the larger conservation community.
  • New science ideas – publishing novel science in high profile peer review journals to push the boundaries of this emerging scientific discipline
  • Supporting other large initiatives – directly collaborating with other Conservation Solution members (e.g. Intact Forests, Climate Adaptation, Mitigation planning)
  • Programmatic focus – working with country programs
  • Specific technical tasks – one-off technical tasks

Principal Responsibilities:

A) Planning and decision support

  • Lead or support conservation planning processes for WCS project teams, partners and stakeholders by guiding decision makers and stakeholders through the process of conservation planning.
  • Work with WCS project teams and external stakeholders to identify and assess current status, trends and likely trajectory of key drivers of change (e.g. demographic change, economic development, climate change, resource extraction), and use the information to develop spatially explicit scenarios for what the future may look like.
  • Work with science and conservation staff from around the work to identify and gather information to identify priority areas for conservation and support informed decision making about the use of environment resources through the implementation of a decision support tools (such as Marxan, Zonation) that is informed by the best available science and future smart. Analyze trade-offs in design of land and seascape, and provide recommendations on efficient zoning and use of land and marine resources.

B) Data Analysis

  • Support ground breaking science that informs the WCS mission through design and providing support in spatial analysis, statistics, and/or modelling
  • Develop and manage spatial databases of biodiversity and socio-economic activities. Proficiency in the use of a GIS (Geographic Information System) to analyze and assimilate spatial and non-spatial data and the ability to design and conduct spatial analysis. Develop, organize, and maintain spatial datasets using relational databases
  • Guide project teams through GAP analysis and work with project managers and scientists to prioritization data collection and design research agendas to fill gaps identified. 

C) Project management

  • Coordinate and prioritize work on multiple projects, set realistic timelines and budgets for task completion, and develop timely progress reports for donors and external stakeholders at specified project milestones.
  • Maintain and build upon collaborative engagements with project partners
  • Ability to lead/work on multiple project teams simultaneously. 

D) Project development

  • Contribute to the design of new projects and assist program staff with grant/proposal writing and other fundraising activities to support the continued growth of the program.
  • Work with WCS project teams to identify new funding opportunities

E) Stakeholder outreach/Communication

  • Build capacity within WCS on the use spatial planning tools and use of objective-based planning processes using the theory of decision science. Develop training materials and lead workshops for internal and external audiences that contribute to the mission of WCS.
  • Use strong written and verbal communication skills to develop a broad suite of communication materials, including publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, white papers for managers, and content for websites.
  • Promote data and tool sharing through partnerships with government agencies and other organizations



  • Advanced university degree (Master's/PhD or equivalent) in landscape ecology, conservation biology, natural resource management, environmental economics, or other relevant discipline
  • 4+ years of professional experience
  • Strong spatial analysis skills in one or more platforms (e.g. AcrGIS, R, GRASS, )
  • Experience using programming languages (e.g. R, Python) to analysis data and automate routine tasks
  • Experience leading structured decision making processes
  • Experience with scenario planning
  • Knowledge of climate adaptation principles in a conservation setting
  • Familiarity with the principles and practices of the mitigation hierarchy, net positive impact and biodiversity offset design, and the concept of High Conservation Value (HCV).
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to work with partners and diverse stakeholder groups to promote buy-in to planning process.  
  • Ability to prioritize competing needs and communicate/balance between direct and indirect supervisors
  • Experience working overseas
  • Demonstrated ability to thrive in an organization characterized by a science and mission-driven workforce. 
  • Demonstrated ability to produce concise written summaries of analytical findings and communicate complex science to a broad variety of audiences


  • Ability to speak and work in at least one other major language relevant to WCS scapes (e.g., Spanish, French)
  • Knowledge of African species and ecosystems, conservation issues, and solutions


About WCS Conservation Solutions. Conservation Solutions partners with over 3,000 field staff across 60 countries around the biggest challenges facing WCS's long-term conservation efforts: climate change, sustainable financing, economic and food security, and data and science gaps.  Leveraging WCS's 100-year leadership in science and field conservation, Conservation Solutions is also home to some of our newest, most innovative partnerships that transcend boundaries, including the MacArthur-funded Intact Forests initiative to protect the world's vital carbon stores, the European Union-funded Sustainable Wildlife/Wildmeat Initiative, the USAID Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group, the Science for Nature and People Partnership, and the Doris Duke Climate Adaptation Fund.  Working at multiple scales-- from indigenous engagement to global policy fora--Conservation Solutions helps WCS and its partners deliver on a mission to save the world’s wildlife and wild places, for all people and for generations to come.  Please send any questions about Conservation Solutions to


Please apply online at, and send a cover letter and CV with a subject line of “[JOB TITLE], [YOUR NAME]” to