Steering Group

Dr Euan Bowditch – Inverness College UHI, Forestry Researcher (Lead Coordinator)

My background is in forest management, which combines diverse practical experience with ongoing education and professional development. Including a B.Sc (Hons) in Forest and Woodland Management from University of Central Lancashire (Newton Rigg), a Masters in Environmental Law from Nottingham University and a Ph.D in Forestry and ecosystem approaches from Aberdeen University (UHI).  I have also worked in the forest sector in Guatemala, USA, Portugal and Germany, which focused upon the role of forest management in community and urban forestry projects.  I am also a qualified arborist (ISA Cert) with strong links to municipal management, social outreach and enterprise projects.  I joined UHI in 2011 originally as a Ph.D student and have since taken up a full-time researcher position, which includes developing the Forests and People Research Group.  Additionally I am module leader for Environment Impact Assessment and help deliver GIS components for two other modules at the Scottish School of Forestry.

Dr Sue Engstrand – Executive Office UHI, Environmental science network leader (Coordinator)

Su is the Subject Network Leader at the University of the Highlands and Islands, with responsibility for courses in Science, Technology and the Environment. With a degree in Biology, Su has interests in behavioral ecology and wildlife conservation. Her PhD at Stirling University focused on reproductive success for incubating birds and involved many hours sitting in a hide with binoculars observing swallows, dippers and great tits. She found a passion for teaching which led her to work as a Teaching Fellow at St Andrews University School of Biology. Following a family relocation to Elgin, she started teaching at the University of the Highlands and Islands, particularly any opportunities to get students out and about exploring the outstanding habitats on our doorstep. As Subject Network Leader, she is involved with looking for new curriculum opportunities and trying to ensure that our courses develop the right skills to prepare our graduates to reach their potential.

Stewart Blair – North Highland College UHI, Lecturer Gamekeeping

Over 25 years’ experience working in the Game, Deer and Forestry sector. Worked for both Private, State and Charitable organisations and now working as a Game Keeping Lecturer at North Highland College UHI. A keen interest [wife says, "addiction!"] to field sports and particularly interested in the integration of all land based sectors.

Drew McFarlane-Slack – Scottish Land & Estates

Drew is the Highland regional Manager for Scottish Land and Estates, the primary representative body for landowners and rural business in Scotland. With early experience in areas as diverse as commercial fishing, fruit processing and theatre stage hand, his career has involved running his own businesses before a lengthy period as a Highland Councillor. He was Chairman of various institutions in the Highlands, including Lochaber CAB, Lochaber Enterprise, the Highland Housing Alliance, Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service. He is currently the Chairman of the Monadhliath Deer Management Group and in 2000 received an MBE for services to housing in Lochaber.

Bruce Mcconachie – CNPA

Bruce McConachie is an active farmer and, Land Management Adviser for the Cairngorms National Park Authority based in Grantown-on-Spey. As part of a wider Land Management team, he takes a lead on agricultural matters including internal policy development as well as contributing to national agricultural and environmental policy change on behalf of the National Park Authority.

Bruce works principally with farmers, growers and crofters but also closely with key partners within the industry, including Scottish Government, to ascertain potential opportunities for Land managers in the National Park. His focus is to identify, implement, and develop opportunities which will help agricultural businesses in the area both economically and environmentally, including the development of working groups, facilitation of large events, guidance and the development and delivery of projects.

Dr Pete Moore – Scottish Natural Heritage

Pete Moore works for Scottish Natural Heritage as a Policy and Advice Officer.  He has worked in nature conservation for over thirty years, beginning on St Kilda in the Western Isles and since 1986, based in The Cairngorms.  Pete’s works in the Rural Resources Unit contributing to projects related to Wildlife Management and to SNH’s work on Food & Drink, particularly how these can raise skill levels, contribute to the rural economy and inform wider initiatives.

His PhD is in Social Science considering the roles of photography and rephotography in the documentation of change.  He has several long term documentary projects, exploring changes to the countryside of Scotland. His on-going research lie particularly in tourist-related photography and the exploration of time and change through repetition.

David Shaw – North Highland College UHI, Lecturer Gamekeeping

Darlene Russell – Argyll College, Lecturer Agriculture

Pete Wright – SEPA

Prior to working at SEPA, following on from studying Environmental Science at Liverpool University, Pete gained experience working for the a number of public and private sector organisations, including The Forestry Commission (Recreation Ranger) and Cheshire County Council (Waste Recycling Manager).

The current work he is involved in is the co-ordination of a project to tackle the issue of rural diffuse pollution and pollution from agricultural activities within SEPAs Priority Catchments.  He also has a role as training lead within the Land Unit holding events for internal and external audiences.

Outside of work you'll find him enjoying the environment he’s helping to protect; on a bike, in a pair of running trainers or with a dog!

Darrel Stevens – RSPB

I have over 20 years of experience in conservation land management and research for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Landguard Bird Observatory. Worked on a rich variety of habitats included coastal habitats, grasslands, heathlands, woodlands, wetlands and grasslands. Since 2015 Darrell has worked for RSPB delivering conservation objectives based around casework both in forestry and developments.  Darrell also helps deliver conservation advice to landowners and other organisations.

Keir Smith – Forestry Commission

Gillian MacLellan – University of the Highlands and Islands (Administrative Support)

I work as a Faculty Administrator for the Science, Health and Engineering Faculty based in Inverness. I work closely with the Science, Technology and the Environment Subject Network and have been part of the Integrated Land Use Conference steering group for the last 4 years.  I’m responsible for the behind the scenes admin arrangements and liaising with delegates. I’ll be the one at conference with a clipboard firmly in my hand looking calm and collected on the outside.

Stuart Bence – Inverness College UHI, Pine Lappet Moth PhD student (Postgraduate Coordinator)

My background is in ecology and conservation which combines experience from a number of research projects as well as from working and volunteering on a number of projects. Including a BSc (hons) from the University of Stirling in Conservation, Biology and Management. As well as a masters from the University of Aberdeen in Ecology and sustainability. I have always had an interest in ecology and conservation and started volunteering from a young age. I continued this though out university and was part of a team at the University of Stirling that encouraged student volunteering with a range of groups. As well as assisting different research groups with work on pollinators and radio tracking bats. Whilst at Stirling University I formed a keen interest in Lepidoptera, at first as pollinators and then into all aspects of their ecology and interactions with the wider ecosystem. On leaving Stirling I worked on a number of projects for the Forth Naturalist and Historian with assistance from Butterfly Conservation and Scottish Wildlife Trust under a “what’s changed” grant from Scottish Natural Heritage, to look at changes in plant and butterfly populations in the last 50 years.

Matt Curran – Inverness College UHI, Research Assistant Rivers and Lochs Institute

I began my career by studying a BSc Zoology/ Marine Zoology at the University of Wales, Bangor before moving on to study for a MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity run jointly by Imperial College and the Natural History Museum, London, and am now conducting a PhD studying the integration and use of science in the freshwater management sector. I spent some time working in the IT and Telecoms sector before training as a teacher in 2003. Between 2004 and 2009 I taught in a sixth form college in Essex teaching A-Level Biology and Human Biology, and GCSE Science. Eventually, progressing to Head of Human Biology and GCSE Science. In 2009 I moved to the Isle of Skye on the west coast of Scotland and worked as a Civil Servant in the Rural Payments and Inspections Division until making the decision to move back into science. In 2013 I took up my current role as a research assistant with the Rivers and Lochs Institute at Inverness College, UHI.