Skip to content Skip to navigation



Eric Baird - Chair

Eric Bard ©The Press and Journal

Eric is Head Ranger at Glen Tanar on Royal Deeside. He is also a guest lecturer in Countryside Management at SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College; chairs the  Access Forum of the Cairngorms National Park - having previously served two full terms as Deputy Convenor of the National Park Board; and sits on the Cairngorms LEADER Board.

He has a particular interest in integrated land management strategy.

Alasdair Laing

Alasdair Laing

Born and brought up in Morayshire, following 5 years as a soldier Alasdair qualified as a rural chartered surveyor in the late 1970s and has extensive experience in the traditional rural management areas of agriculture, forestry and field sports.  Recent forays into the areas of fisheries management, renewables (wind and biomass) and redundant building development have broadened his overall experience in the use of rural land and its associated assets.

A past chairman of The Grampian Forest Forum, Trustee of the Scottish Forestry Trust and director and vice-chairman of the Scottish Agricultural College, Alasdair currently chairs the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust in Scotland and maintains a close interest in rural management.

Out with the rural field, Alasdair is a founder shareholder and director of PDG Helicopters, Scotland’s largest onshore helicopter operator and his recreational interests include hill walking, skiing and field sports.

Ron MacDonald

Ron MacDonald

Ron worked for Scottish Natural Heritage, and its predecessor body, the Nature Conservancy Council for over 27 years. He retired in March 2015 as SNH Director of Policy and Advice and is now an honorary research fellow at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen.

He has a PhD in agricultural zoology and in his early career he specialised in the impact of birds on agriculture and fisheries.  During his career with SNH he was closely involved in work on invasive non native species, the Langholm Demonstration Project for which he was a Director from 2014-2015 and the reintroduction of species such as the sea eagle to Scotland. From 2006-15 he was Chairman of the Scottish National Species Reintroduction Forum.

Ron's principal areas of interest are sustainable models of land use management for people and nature, species reintroductions and the links between human health and well-being and nature.

Laura R Meagher

Laura R Meagher

Senior Partner of Technology Development Group, Laura Meagher facilitates and evaluates strategic change in higher education, research, knowledge exchange and policy; specialities include interdisciplinarity and evaluation of research impact. To share her knowledge, she leads masterclasses/workshops and publishes on these processes. She also analyses different approaches to building capacity among next-generation researchers.

With a PhD from Duke University in evolutionary biology and an interest in policy, Meagher was co-founder and first vice-president of the pioneering North Carolina Biotechnology Center and later a research dean at Rutgers University. After a Fulbright Fellowship in Institutional Change, she moved to Scotland in 1999, when she launched Technology Development Group on this side of the Atlantic. She has served on the Boards of Newbattle Abbey College,  the Macaulay Institute and the James Hutton Institute.

David Robinson

David Robinson

David is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Aberdeen and an Honorary Research Associate of the James Hutton Institute. He studied biology at Manchester and completed a PhD in Sheffield; his main scientific interests are the interactions between plants and their environment, and on their importance to ecology and agriculture.

David held a personal chair in Plant and Soil Science at Aberdeen for fifteen years, nine of which were as Deputy Head of the School of Biological Sciences, before retiring in July 2015. Previously he was a research scientist at the James Hutton Institute’s two predecessor organisations, the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research and the Scottish Crop Research Institute. Between 2010 and 2015 he was Keeper of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden in Aberdeen and a trustee of the Cruickshank Garden Trust. On behalf of the British Ecological Society, he was senior editor of their journal Functional Ecology for six years.

A native of St Helens, Lancashire, David has for the past 25 years lived in rural Angus.

Roy Roxburgh

Roy Roxburgh ©Maclay Murray & Spens LLP

Roy has been for over 40 years a commercial solicitor, presently a consultant and a former partner of Maclay Murray and Spens LLP, one of Scotland's largest and best known commercial legal practices.

He is vice-convener of the Law Society of Scotland's Company, Banking and Insolvency Committee and represents the Law Society on the UK's Joint Insolvency Committee. Roy was the editor of one of Scotland's leading books on insolvency and has been a regular speaker on corporate and restructuring/insolvency topics.

Outside of law his main interests are skiing, golf, walking and bridge.

Bill Slee

Bill Slee

Bill Slee worked at the James Hutton Institute as Head of the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences research group until 2013 and then as a senior research scientist until July 2015. He is now an Honorary Research Fellow of the Institute.  He was previously a senior lecturer in the University of Aberdeen and Director and Research Professor of Rural Economy at the Countryside and Community Research Unit at the University of Gloucestershire, where he retains a visiting chair.

Bill's principal research interests are the socio-economic dimensions of land based and wider socioeconomic adjustment and change in rural economies of developed countries. He is currently working on social innovation in rural areas, climate change related issues, water quality, farm adjustment and rural development and has worked extensively in exploring the economic impacts of forestry, the restructuring and transformation of the farm sector, the impact of new food supply chains on rural development, the evaluation of LEADER, land reform and rural tourism and recreation. Bill is still active in European Horizon 2020 projects.

Sue Walker

Sue Walker ©Scottish Natural Heritage

Sue has worked in water and land management for over 30 years. She has been a Board Member of a number of organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Cairngorms National Park Authority and was for a time a Professor of Geography and Environment at the University of Aberdeen . Sue was also a member of the Strategic Science Advisory Panel which advised the Scottish Government on a strategy for the rural and environment science and she was the Independent Chair of the Co-ordinated Agenda for Marine, Environment and Rural Affairs Science. Sue lives on Deeside with her family and enjoys hill walking and ski-ing.

Fran van Dijk

Fran van Dijk

Fran is a founding partner of One Stone Advisors Ltd, a global strategy and communications team which helps companies become more successful sustainability leaders. One Stone is a founding B Corp and a Best for the World honouree.

Fran advises on managing opportunity and risk to build long-term value, working with corporates to ensure that their business strategy, sustainability values and communications align. She helps emerging sustainability leaders integrate the SDGs into their strategy and prioritise the Goals for better business planning. Clients include Carlsberg Group, Electrolux, Ericsson, TUI Travel, Edrington, Tetra Pak and SSE.

Fran holds degrees from the University of Cambridge and the European Association for Environmental Management Education. She is co-author of Creating a Culture of Integrity: Business Ethics for the 21st Century and serves on the Board of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. She was a board member of the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute from 2004-2011.


Paul Timms

Paul Timms ©Paul Timms Select

Paul is the part time Executive Administrator of the Trust. He has 30 years' experience of rural land management, having trained as a Land agent and spent much of his career working at the interface of protected land management, innovative techniques and research. Paul has considerable management and administrative experience, having also run grant schemes in the public, private and third sectors. He is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and other professional organisations and runs his own land management consultancy. He enjoys many forms of outdoor recreation including hillwalking and cycling.