By Lauren Ahwan
Greater job opportunities for conservationists have come at the cost of the environment as climate change increases the need for green workers.
The Australian Conservation Foundation is predicting a boom in green jobs, ranging from low-skill, entry-level positions to high-skill, higher-paid careers.
Green jobs initially were considered a niche market, but the foundation believes all jobs "will need to become a shade of green".
It states green jobs not only focus on renewable energy or sustainable farming, but can be as simple as a building cleaner who uses environmentally friendly products.
Foundation spokesman Paul Sinclair says caring for the environment used to be the domain of volunteer groups, but is now a thriving employment sector.
"People should be paid to look after this asset (the environment), just as they are paid to look after other assets such as our roads, our hospitals and our schools," he says. "Managing the forests and the wetlands requires expertise.
"We have a lot of expertise here in Australia. We should be really well placed for the growth of these green jobs."
A recent report by the foundation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions shows 3.7 million jobs could be created nationally by 2030 if strong action were taken to cut greenhouse pollution.
One such job experiencing growing demand is natural resource management. Each of South Australia's eight regional Natural Resource Management boards now employs about 200 staff.
Murray-Darling Basin board general manager John Johnson says work covers a variety of environments, such as scrubland and coastal areas, and involves educating the general public.
"I'd like to say we are in the business of working ourselves out of a job, but we are never going to be out of a job because things keep changing and we keep finding new things to do," he says.
"The reason we get (a new) task is because the (environment) is in such a bad state to start with."
Mr Johnson says governments are providing more funding to protect threatened habitats, increasing the number of jobs.
Nathanael Janiak, 29, used to chop down trees for a living but now is working towards conservation and land management accreditation at Monarto Zoo. He has no doubt climate change has given him greater opportunities to work in the conservation sector.
"Instead of going in and destroying something, I'm now going in and fixing it up," he says.
"Over the next 20 years we might plant eight or nine or even 10,000 trees and we get to see them grow.
"There are jobs all around the place. Everything needs to be maintained to a certain degree, and the fact that things have got as bad as they have means there's always going to be some place to fix up and revegetate."
* 43 per cent of workers in the natural resources management sector are aged over 41 years.
* 14 per cent of workers are aged under 30 years.
* 71 per cent of workers are female.
* 43 per cent of workers have at least 15 years' experience.
* Average salary $51,000 $75,000
Source: The 2010 Guide to Environmental Careers in Australia
Article from The Advertiser, June, 2010.