Protected Areas Program Assistant

  • Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize


To apply, please download application pack; and send a copy of your CV (no more than 2 pages) and a one-page letter outlining your interest and suitability for the position. All documents should be emailed in .pdf format.

LOCATION Punta Gorda Town & Golden Stream Field Station, Toledo, Belize

LENGTH OF STAY Minimum 6 month commitment (probation period 3 months)

START DATE May 2016 or as soon as possible

SALARY This is an unpaid volunteer position

WORK SCHEDULE Full time (Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm) including weekends as required2



Belize is one of the most important remaining biodiversity hotspots in the region. With more than 60% forest cover and the second largest barrier reef in the world and playing host to some of the rarest and most threatened species globally its effective conservation is critically important. Ya'axché Conservation Trust manages three terrestrial protected areas under different categories, which lie in the Maya Golden Landscape, a 3,116 km2 matrix of community, national and private land within which an Integrated Landscape Management approach has been adopted since 1997. As one of the largest NGO's in Belize, Ya'axché is well known for its holistic, innovative approach to finding solutions for harmony between nature and human development. Our Protected Areas Management Program is one of three programs in the organization and comprises a Research Branch and Ranger Team.


The Protected Areas Officer will be responsible for:

  1. Implementing the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) Software – this tool has been successfully implemented in 36 countries and allows a new approach to patrol data collection, analysis and reporting. Ya'axché is one of the first terrestrial organization to adopt this tool in Belize. The Protected Area (PA) Manager and the Ranger Team, who have already received training on the use of SMART, will need ongoing guidance with the use of android technology for data collection, the updating and improvement of the data model and the analysis and reporting of collected data.
  2. Maintaining and improving patrol efficiency – Working closely with the PA Director, PA Manager, Ranger Team and Sustainable Land Use Officer the Protected Areas Program Assistant (PAPA) will ensure that patrols are conducted with maximum efficiency. Outcomes from the SMART tool will inform patrols planning strategies and will be regularly used to assess rangers' performance.
  3. Assisting in the implementation of the Research Program – Working closely with the Science Director the Protected Areas Program Assistant will be responsible for the day to day operation of the research and monitoring activities.
  4. Ensuring operational excellence for the Protected Areas Program – Working closely with the PA Program Director and the Science Director the PA Program Assistant will assist Ya'axchè to achieve its overall mission in accordance with the Annual Operational Plan.


  1. Familiarise, research and test the SMART software and data model, CyberTracker and mobile devices to a level where support and training can be provided to the Ranger Team.
  2. Conduct field testing of mobile devices and data model across the Maya Golden Landscape, liaising with PA Manager, Ranger Team and Sustainable Land Use officer to manage data and produce reports.
  3. Familiarise with ranger team on patrols in Maya Golden Landscape to understand patrol efficiency gaps and identify strategies to improve efficiency.
  4. Produce reports from the SMART software for feedback to Ranger Team, management team, donors and other relevant stakeholders (Forest Dept., Belize Defence Force, WCS).
  5. Produce reports to measure Ranger Team performance and law enforcement effectiveness.
  6. Work with the Science Director and the Protected Areas Manager to schedule monitoring activities within the Maya Golden Landscape.
  7. Work with the Science Director in planning, designing and modifying monitoring methodologies where appropriate and ensuring that the ranger team is informed of any changes.
  8. Ensure camera trapping surveys are running to schedule and ensure proper data collection, storage and analysis.
  9. Assist the Science Director in identifying areas of need and implementation of training sessions for the ranger team.
  10. Work with the ranger team to collect monitoring data and assist the monitoring assistant ranger with database management and reporting.
  11. Take on other relevant duties and activities under the Protected Areas Management Program that may arise from time to time.



  • A Bachelor degree in Conservation, Natural Resource Management or a related field
  • Understanding of the issues related to protected areas, climate change, biodiversity, rural development and governance
  • Data management experience/ability to work with data and databases efficiently
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to build collaborative relationships and network effectively


  • Masters or postgraduate degree in relevant subjects
  • Project Management experience
  • Knowledge of research methods adopted in Social Science
  • Knowledge of program evaluation
  • Knowledge of enforcement techniques



  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Excellent written and spoken English
  • Ability to work and conduct research independently
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills
  • Excellent understanding and quick learning of technology


  • Previous experience with the use of the SMART tool
  • Experience with camera trapping and related research field equipment
  • Proficiency in statistical analysis packages such as R or similar
  • Ability to lead trainings for core field skills in research and monitoring



  • Commitment to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development
  • A positive attitude open to learning even outside of comfort zone
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Meticulous attention to details
  • Ability to operate as part of a team in a dynamic environment, as well as motivation and enthusiasm to work under own initiative
  • Ability to think strategically
  • Cultural sensitivity towards Belizeans in general and the indigenous communities of the Maya Golden Landscape in particular
  • Flexibility with field schedules including weekends and holidays
  • Ability to cope with occasional extended periods of wilderness camping for research and monitoring purposes.


This is a voluntary, unpaid position. However the volunteer will receive benefits including:

  • Free, basic, shared housing at Golden Stream Corridor Preserve field station (see Volunteer Guide for more details)
  • Opportunity to work closely with dynamic, multi-cultural staff
  • Appreciation for your dedication and hard work
  • Adventure in a country with pristine ecosystems, world-class snorkeling and SCUBA
  • In-depth, interactive cultural experience unattainable by tourists


There are no program fees charged for this experience, but the volunteer is expected to arrange and pay for:

  • Transportation to Punta Gorda, Belize, including airfare.
  • Food, personal expenses, in-country travel, rent in Punta Gorda
  • Passport, visa, sufficient personal medical insurance

Additional information is available in the Volunteer Guide (application pack) including a break-down of the realistic cost of living in Belize. If you have any further questions we are happy to provide information on request.

Ya'axché Conservation Trust Ya'axché Conservation Trust logo

  • #20A George Price Street
    PO Box 177
    Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize
    See Map
  • Start and end dates:

    May 2016
  • Duration:

    3 months or longer
  • Time commitment:

    Full time (30-40 hours/week)
  • Times of day:

    Mornings Afternoons Evenings
  • Days of week:

  • Schedule:

    Fixed schedule
  • International volunteer options:

    International volunteers welcome

Ya'axché Conservation Trust Ya'axché Conservation Trust logo

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