NatureScot welcomes seven new board members

19 May 2021

Scotland’s nature agency welcomed seven new members to their first board meeting last week, following their appointment by retired Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP in March 2021.

Dr Ian Gambles, Professor Peter Higgins, David Johnstone, Colin MacPhail, Professor Wayne Powell, Dr Heather Reid, and Nikki Yoxall have been appointed as members of the NatureScot board for an initial period of four years.

Mike Cantlay, Chair of NatureScot, said: “Our board is reinvigorated with the introduction of seven new members. They bring significant experience in a wide range of areas including business, education, science, and agriculture.

“The breadth of interest and experience across all 11 members – of which six are women – brings a range of views that will support NatureScot in a huge year for nature, with CoP15 and CoP26 taking place within the next six months and a new biodiversity strategy for Scotland in 2022.

“I’m confident that our board is well placed to take NatureScot forward to achieve our ambitious plans to put the restoration of nature at the heart of Scotland’s efforts to tackle the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.”

Board appointments:

Dr Ian Gambles

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.

Professor Peter Higgins

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.

David Johnstone

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 a 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.

Colin MacPhail

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.

Professor Wayne Powell

Wayne is Principal and 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.

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.

Nikki Yoxall

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 agro-ecological 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, Land-based Studies at Chichester College. Mrs Yoxall is currently a Farmer Ambassador for the Soil Association.