Board members

Our Board members together make decisions relating to the strategic direction of our organisation on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

Read brief biographies of our Board members to discover the skills and experience that each brings to NatureScot.

You can view the level of remuneration awarded to Board members in our annual report and accounts.

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Dr Mike Cantlay OBE, Chair

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Dr Mike Cantlay OBE was appointed Chair of NatureScot in May 2017. He is also Chair of the Scottish Funding Council and sits on Scottish Government's Strategic Board. He is a member of both the Convention of the South of Scotland and the Convention of the Highlands and Islands. Mike has over 25 years' experience of public sector governance having previously been Chair of Highlands and Islands Airports, Chair of VisitScotland, Convener of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National park Authority, Chair of Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley, Chair of the Board of Management at Forth Valley College, an Advisory Member of the Board of Scottish Enterprise and a Board Member of VisitBritain.

He runs is own business William Glen Limited with interests in property, textiles and whisky in Scotland, Canada and the USA.

Mike studied at the University of Strathclyde, achieving a Bachelor of Arts in 1985 and then a Master of Business Administration in 1989. He received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stirling in 2003 for services to tourism.

Mike was awarded Public Sector Leader of the Year at the Scottish Leadership Awards 2012 and was made an OBE in 2014 for services to tourism. He was brought up in Callander, Perthshire where his family still lives and his business is headquartered.


Contact: Mike Cantlay
c/o Executive Office
Great Glen House
Leachkin Road


Cath Denholm, Deputy Chair

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Cath Denholm joined the Equality and Human Rights Commission as Executive Director of Corporate Services in June 2020. Prior to that she worked for more than 20 years in NHS management and strategic roles in primary care, GP appraisal and public health. She is a member of the Institute of Directors and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She is also Vice Chair of Impact Arts. Her overarching professional interests are human rights, public service leadership and partnership working across sectors in order to achieve fair access for all and good value for public money.

Cath’s role as Deputy Chair of NatureScot is her only ministerial appointment.

Cath will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2022.


Dr Kate Broughton

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Dr Kate Broughton has 30 years’ experience in research and the energy business, as a geologist and in the private sector.

When she worked for Edinburgh-based Wood Mackenzie, Kate was closely involved in the growth of the business. She brings to our Board her experience of strategic development and governance.

Kate’s financial acumen comes from working as a UK oil and gas analyst and from having budget responsibility for global research and operations teams.

She also has a strong track record in:

  • process improvement
  • product development
  • change management

Kate has a particular interest in efficient digital delivery and data management.

She was awarded a PhD in Geology by the University of Sheffield in 1991.

Kate will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2022. She holds no other ministerial appointments.


Aoife Martin

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Aoife Martin is currently Director of Operations at Seafish – the Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) responsible for supporting the UK seafood sector. Aoife is an experienced resource management professional who has returned to Scotland after spending 12 years working for the New Zealand Government in fisheries, forestry and land management. During her career, she has worked across the public and private sector in the UK and New Zealand.

Aoife will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2022. She holds no other ministerial appointments.


Dr Jackie Hyland

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Dr Jackie Hyland is a Consultant in Public Health Medicine with a special interest in health equity and environmental health.

Jackie advises on health aspects of communicable diseases and environmental protection including contamination of air, land and water. She also champions the promotion of biodiversity within health and wider public sectors.

She has published on:
environmental health management
engagement with stakeholders
socioeconomic impact of air pollution and health

Jackie qualified in Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and has worked extensively in the NHS as a clinical practitioner and latterly as an Associate Director of Public Health. She has an MBA from Heriot Watt and a Medical Doctorate from St Andrews University. 

Jackie will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2022.


Colin MacPhail

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Colin currently operates his Agricultural Consultant business, C A MacPhail Consulting Ltd which is part of the 5Agri Group. He also farms a 6,000 acre hill farm with holiday accommodation on the Isle of Mull alongside his family. Colin previously worked as an Agricultural Officer with the Scottish Government before moving into livestock procurement and then into Agricultural Consultancy with SAC Consulting (SRUC) on Benbecula and in Stirling. He then moved into farm business management on a large-scale diversified dairy, beef and sheep unit before starting his own consultancy business. Colin is passionate about rural communities and the role which farmers and land managers play in providing sustainable food production whilst continuing to deliver positive environmental management. Colin has experience of delivering projects which promote internal and external collaboration in agriculture and land management.

Colin will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2025. 


Professor Peter Higgins

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Pete is Professor of Outdoor, Environmental and Sustainability Education at the University of Edinburgh, and Director of the United Nations University Recognised Centre for Education for Sustainable Development (Scotland). His background was in the environmental sciences, freshwater and fisheries biology. Much of his career has been spent working in and for the environment promoting its educational, social and economic value through teaching, research, and policy development. He Chaired the Scottish Government Ministerial Advisory/Implementation Groups on Learning for Sustainability, was a Member of the National Parks Act Review Group (2008) and of the SportScotland Trust Company Board. He is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, an expert advisor to the UK Commission for UNESCO and several international nature and sustainability education networks, a Trustee of The Venture Trust, and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Field Studies Council.

Pete will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2025. 


David Johnstone

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David runs a family estate just south of Moffat covering enterprises from the traditional agricultural, forestry residential and commercial property, through to renewables, tourism and everything that are mixed diverse business covers.

He was chairman of Scottish Land and Estates for seven years stepping down in March 2020 and is a board member of South of Scotland community housing, and chairs the local Johnstonebridge community development fund.

David will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2025. 


Dr Ian Gambles

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Ian joins NatureScot from eight years at the Forestry Commission, where he has held the position of CEO.  He is now Chair of the James Hutton Institute. Ian's career has been in both the public and private sectors, including in the Planning Inspectorate and HM Treasury, and as a management consultant in KPMG and in his own business.  He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Ian will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2025.


Professor Wayne Powell

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Wayne is Principal & Chief Executive of Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).  Other current roles include membership of the Science Advisory Council of DEFRA, the Scottish Science Advisory Council and Convenor of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee of Universities Scotland.

Wayne will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2025.


Dr Heather Reid

Dr Heather Reid

Heather is a science education consultant and former weather forecaster with the Met Office and BBC Scotland. She brings over 25 years’ experience in public science engagement and outreach, especially in environmental sciences and climate change. Dr Reid was previously Chair of the Institute of Physics in Scotland, and was a Trustee at Glasgow Science Centre for 10 years. She has sat on several STEM Education advisory committees and works closely with the education sector and industry. She is also a Board member of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority and enjoys hill-walking and mountain biking, especially when the sun is shining!

Heather will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2025.


Nikki Yoxall

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Nikki currently farms with her husband in the North of Scotland and holds roles with the Nature Friendly Farming Network, Pasture Fed Livestock Association and the Landworkers Alliance promoting and facilitating agroecological research and education.

She has worked in the tertiary education sector both in Scotland as Director of Learning and Teaching at Moray College UHI and in England as Head of Learning, Landbased Studies at Chichester College.

Mrs Yoxall is currently a Farmer Ambassador for the Soil Association

Nikki will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2025.