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.

Group shot of Board members
NatureScot Board members February 2022
Last updated:

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 his 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
NatureScot
Great Glen House
Leachkin Road
Inverness
IV3 8NW

Email: [email protected]

Aoife Martin, Deputy Chair

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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, where she is responsible for the Regulation, Responsible Sourcing, and Economics. She has worked extensively for the civil service in New Zealand in fisheries, forestry and land management where she worked on policy development, regulatory implementation and compliance issues. This included working as the deep-water fisheries manager where she established a collaborative partnership between government and the commercial industry to ensure the sustainable management of deep-water stocks. She holds a BA (Hons) degree in History and Geography from Trinity College, Dublin, and an MBA from the University of Edinburgh.

Aoife will serve as a Board member of NatureScot until 31 March 2024. She holds no other ministerial appointments.

Email: [email protected]

Colin MacPhail

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Colin MacPhail 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. 

Email: [email protected]

Professor Peter Higgins

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Professor Pete Higgins 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. 

Email: [email protected]

David Johnstone

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David Johnstone 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. 

Email: [email protected]

Dr Ian Gambles

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Dr Ian Gambles 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.

Email: [email protected]

Professor Wayne Powell

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Professor Wayne Powell is Principal & Chief Executive of Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).  Wayne has shown a lifelong commitment to the application of cutting edge science to deliver practical benefits for agriculture and the rural economies of the developed and developing world. His personal research interests are at the interface of plant genetics, genome science, plant breeding and conservation of genetic resources with a strong emphasis on the delivery of ‘public good’ outcomes.  He has published extensively has an extensive national and international network of collaborators and contacts. Wayne’s leadership experience spans the Public, Private and University sectors, with a strong International focus. He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Before joining SRUC, Wayne was Chief Science Officer at CGIAR. CGIAR is the world’s premier global agri-food partnership dedicated to help achieve the sustainable development agenda of healthy diets from sustainable food systems for all. 

Prior to this he was Professor and founding Director of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University where he led the merger of the Institutes of Biological and Rural Sciences of the University with the BBSRC Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) to form one of the largest groups of academics and support staff in the UK focussing on plant, environment and land based sciences.

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

Email: [email protected]

Dr Heather Reid

Dr Heather Reid

Dr Heather Reid 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.

Email: [email protected]

Nikki Yoxall

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Nikki Yoxall 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.

Email: [email protected]