Environmental Consultant

Position Overview/Description

Environmental consultants provide a range of environment-related expertise and advice to clients.  They might conduct land use surveys, write reports, provide environmental monitoring services, develop GIS maps, review development applications or conduct research.  Environmental consultants often specialize in a particular area and typically have an undergraduate degree plus additional experience and/or advanced education or training in their area of expertise.  Consultants may work independently or as part of a larger company or organization.

Karlene Loudon

Principal Consultant & Biologist

CoastRange Environmental Ltd.

Education, Skills & Experience

Karlene is the Principal Consultant and Biologist for CoastRange Environmental Ltd., a company she created.  Her Physical Geography degree in biogeophysical sciences gives her a diverse and well-developed understanding of soils, geomorphology, weather, ecology, water chemistry, etc. and she uses this background to help predict environmental issues that could arise from a proposed development and to suggest avoidance and mitigation measures. In her work, Karlene relies heavily on skills developed within her undergraduate degree, such as:  communication and interpersonal skills, report writing, plant identification and GIS Mapping. 

After completing her Physical Geography degree at SFU and working for several years, Karlene went on to do a graduate degree and become a Registered Professional Biologist (R.P.Bio).

A Day in the Life

After a quiet morning researching historic land usage along the Squamish River, Karlene Loudon is off to meet with Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) representatives for a project check-in.  As part of a current project, Karlene is working with First Nations, government officials and technical specialists to document the state of ecological knowledge within the Squamish River watershed.  Once completed, the information that comes out of this project will be used by DFO to identify knowledge gaps and define future research plans.

A Typical Day

During a typical day Karlene is involved in a mix of field work, research, writing, administration and client meetings, with approximately 90% of her time spent in the office and 10% doing fieldwork.

She often starts her day by meeting with new clients (developers, government agencies and First Nations) to determine their needs, develop project plans and provide estimates. She will then do any fieldwork that is required (measuring a stream, identifying invasive plants, mapping trees, etc.) before heading back to the office to make maps (GIS) and write reports.

Once complete, the reports she produces will be submitted, along with development permit applications, to local, provincial and federal governments for review. After a development has been approved, Karlene also helps with environmental monitoring.

One of the things Karlene loves most about her job is being able to help people solve development challenges while protecting the environment.

She also loves the combination of fieldwork, office work and working with people, and the flexible schedule that comes with having her own business.

Are you interested in becoming an Environmental Consultant?

While there are many paths to becoming an environmental consultant, Karlene’s career journey provides one example of what might be involved.  After graduating from SFU with a BSc degree in Physical Geography (biogeophysical stream), Karlene:

  • worked as an environmental consultant for Cascade Environmental (4 yrs)
  • registered as an RBTech and worked as a research Biologist for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (6 months)
  • took a position as the Environmental Coordinator for the District of Squamish (2.5 yrs)
  • completed a Masters of Natural Resources in Aquatic Sciences from Oregon State (while working part time)
  • registered as an RPBio
  • started her own company, CoastRange Environmental Ltd.
  • is now an independent environmental consultant taking contracts with private developers, First Nations, ECCC, DFO, and the District of Squamish