A well-known and respected Scottish environmentalist has been named the new Chair of The James Hutton Institute - the globally recognised Scottish research institute focussed on the sustainable use of land, crops, and natural resources.

Susan Davies has been Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre since 2019 and is also a former Director of Conservation at the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

She has been on the Hutton board since 2017 as a trustee, and previously held a range of operational, policy and science roles within Scottish Natural Heritage (now NatureScot) over 15 years, including Director of Policy and Advice and latterly Acting Chief Executive.

Originally from Peebles in the Scottish Borders, Ms Davies’ early career was spent as an adviser/ head of unit with the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee where she was involved in the development and implementation of nature legislation and species and habitat recovery programmes across the UK and at a European level.

She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and is currently a member of the Scottish Government’s First Minister’s Environmental Council established to advise on international best practice to help Scotland respond effectively to the climate and nature emergencies.

Ms Davies said: “I couldn’t be prouder to be taking over as chair of what is quite rightly considered one of the world’s leading research institutes. The James Hutton Institute helps societies across the globe respond to ever-growing challenges around food security, sustainable management of our natural resources and net-zero.

“We are all at a milestone moment in working together to build the economic, environmental, and societal resilience to climate change and tackling nature loss.

“Whilst our roots are in Scotland, the Hutton team collaborates with a vast range of global stakeholders including governments, business, researchers, land managers and communities from around the world. I look forward to working with them to ensure science continues to have a positive and lasting impact for us all.”

Ms. Davies replaces current Chair Ian Gambles, who has served on the Hutton Board for 9 years. During his time in the role, he steered the Board to a new and ambitious Corporate Plan and through a significant period of investment for the Institute’s estate.

Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of James Hutton Institute said: “The work being carried out at the Institute is vital in safeguarding the future of our natural resources and supporting thriving communities, not just in Scotland, but globally.

“Susan Davies has had a long and distinguished career in nature conservation and responsible stewardship of land and natural resources. Having her as Chair will be a fantastic asset as she brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Institute, and I very much look forward to working with her.”

Ms Davies will be stepping into the role of Chair in mid-September and will be working closely with current Chair Ian Gambles in the interim, to ensure a smooth transition between the two.

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