Restoration Science Director
Job Search Location(s) United States - Arlington, VA
ID 1305
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Restoration Science Director

Conservation International (CI) has been protecting nature for the benefit of all for over 30 years. Through science, policy, and partnerships, CI is helping build a healthier, more prosperous and more productive planet. 


Avoiding dangerous climate change requires transformative actions across all sectors of our society and economy. Required actions include rapid energy transition, technological innovation, and unprecedented investment in natural climate solutions, all pursued urgently, globally, and in parallel. Restoration science is at the heart of natural climate solutions (NCS), and complements the other dimension of NCS (avoiding emissions from the loss and degradation of ecosystems). In this role, you will have wide latitude to design and lead a portfolio of restoration science initiatives. You will also be deeply engaged in translating that science to actions both on the ground and through the international and national policy communities. At Conservation International (CI), Natural Climate Solutions are our highest priority and we will look to you for big ideas for big solutions. Together, we will make an impact.

As our Director of Restoration Science, you will play a key and highly visible role leading the design and delivery of high-impact outputs and outcomes relating to the restoration science dimensions of NCS. This will include developing innovative research projects, publishing papers, and contributing to funding proposals that will help deliver on CI’s climate goals. This will also include direct involvement with efforts to implement NCS strategies on the ground, and to improve international frameworks and national policies. You will be given a high degree of independence to lead the strategic development of NCS restoration science across the institution. You will work closely with the Sr Director of Natural Climate Solutions, other scientists on the Natural Climate Solutions team, and a network of scientists and practitioners across CI divisions and core external partners, including some of the world’s leading climate-focused institutions and global thought leaders. This is an exceptional opportunity for a creative, determined individual to pursue a research agenda that will directly contribute to CI’s and partner organizations’ on-the-ground actions and policies to mitigate climate change through improved stewardship of nature.

NCS restoration actions increase carbon storage across natural and managed land cover types. Examples of particular interest to CI include reforestation and afforestation (in particular natural regeneration of forests), various forms of agroforestry and silvopasture. Examples also relevant to CI NCS efforts are improved grazing practices, restoration of coastal and inland wetlands, and climate smart agriculture. Such solutions offer >5 Gt CO2e/year in cost-effective mitigation potential globally that can be achieved without harmful impacts on food security, fiber security, or biodiversity. However, realizing the massive potential of NCS restoration actions will require breakthroughs to align many sectors of society toward meeting this collective challenge and opportunity, requiring co-design of solutions pathways and the science needed to inform them. You, with the Natural Climate Solutions team, will design, implement, and coordinate a transformative research agenda to inform key NCS targets and their pathways for implementation.

Internally, you will play a vital role contributing to the institutional Climate Strategy and working closely with the broader Climate Team, driving collaboration across divisions and advising and mentoring key staff. Externally, you will build and leverage strategic alliances with NGOs, multilateral organizations, and businesses. Your success will flow from your understanding of the core issues relating to climate change in general and climate mitigation in particular, your technical knowledge, your understanding of the global and national policy contexts, and local realities, into which NCS restoration science must integrate and evolve.

Your core areas of focus will include research to design, set targets for, and evaluate the impact of restoration actions such as those mentioned above. Critical research needs may include spatially identifying the most promising restoration opportunities, barriers, and trade-offs; evaluating the cost-benefit of various NCS pathways; and identifying the safeguards necessary to secure biodiversity, food, and fiber, while enabling NCS to meet its potential at national and global scales. Linking science products with actions will include activities such as developing technical guidance, tools and capacity on topics related to forest restoration, leading capacity building activities (workshops, webinars, etc), and supporting CI programs and partners on restoration related issues.

Organization Overview

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​For more than 30 years, Conservation International has been protecting nature for the benefit of all​. We don’t focus on one sector or one issue and we’re not interested in short-term fixes. Instead, building upon a foundation of science, partnership, and field work, we find global solutions to global problems. ​​

Humanity is dependent on nature, and by saving nature, we’re saving ourselves. To that end, Conservation International is working to build a healthier, more prosperous, and more productive planet.

We do this through science, policy, and partnerships with countries, communities, and companies. We employ nearly 1,000 people and work with more than 2,000 partners in 30 countries. Over the years, we have helped support 1,200 protected areas and interventions across 77 countries, protecting more than 601 million hectares of land, marine, and coastal areas. ​​


  • Provide intellectual leadership of CI’s Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) restoration science.
  • Design, lead, and support innovative, highly visible research on key targets for NCS and pathways for their implementation, taking full advantage of recent innovations in, and availability of, big data and associated technologies.
  • Champion engagement and coordination on NCS restoration science across a broad network of scientists and practitioners across CI divisions, particularly capitalizing on expertise in the Field Divisions.
  • Build a network of external organizations and individuals (academics, NGOs, private sector actors), including identifying novel partnerships, to help assemble a broad coalition for driving transformational change in the global uptake of NCS restoration efforts.
  • Advance and influence stakeholder understanding and engagement through leading the development of high-impact peer-review publications and thought pieces.
  • Represent CI at key scientific congresses, policy fora, and scientific expert groups related to NCS.
  • Working with the Sr Director of NCS to identify fundraising opportunities and work with CI development staff to leverage existing, and explore new, sources of financial support.
  • Provide support to the senior leadership of the Moore Center for Science and the institution at large, in strategic planning, partner engagement, and program priorities around NCS.
  • Other duties as assigned by supervisor


  • Work is performed in a typical office environment.
  • Some travel – up to 25% (domestic and international) may be required.
  • Flexibility in work schedule in order to accommodate time differences between HQ and the region may be necessary



  • Master’s degree in environmental science, conservation biology, economics, social sciences or related fields
  • Demonstrated (7+ years) experience conducting research and practice in the field of terrestrial ecosystem science with a focus on interactions between human activity and terrestrial ecosystems. Experience working in forest ecoregions of particular importance. Experience working in other types of ecosystems (e.g. wetlands, savanna, grasslands) also important. 
  • Excellent quantitative analytical skills working with and analyzing geospatial datasets. Experience working with remote-sensing data an advantage.
  • Robust understanding of the national and international policy landscapes relating to NCS (e.g., Paris Agreement, Nationally Determined Contributions, Bonn Challenge, etc.).
  • Management experience, mentoring and coordinating a cross-disciplinary team of experts to achieve innovative and far-reaching goals.
  • Demonstrated experience securing funds from public and private sources for research and implementation of research programs and projects.
  • Demonstrated ability to think at the system-level, recognizing that climate mitigation is a multi-sectoral challenge, and using lateral thinking to solve complex problems.
  • Highly resourceful and able to work both independently and as part of a broader team of multidisciplinary experts, as necessary.
  • A willingness and aptitude to engage across cultures and to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances.
  • Excellent communication skills and ability to engage audiences across disparate fields of research and policy.
  • Highly organized with strong attention to detail.


  • Ph.D. in a relevant environmental, climate, or earth system science

View all Conservation International Career Opportunities HERE

Conservation International Values

We expect that all employees will embrace the values of our organization.

Passion: We are inspired by nature and cherish the diversity of life in all of its forms. 

Respect: We respect and trust each other, and we embrace our diversity of cultures, talents, and experiences.

Integrity: We act with integrity and are accountable for our actions.

Optimism: We are optimistic about the future of life on Earth and are confident that, with our partners, we will achieve unprecedented conservation results.

Courage: We tirelessly pursue our vision, taking bold action and persevering through challenges.

Teamwork: We work together, recognizing that openness, collaboration and cooperation are fundamental to achieving a healthy and prosperous world for all.

Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Women/Vets/Disabled

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