At an Annual General Meeting on 25th March 2017 the following were elected board members
Name: Chantal Awbi
Bio: Channy moved to Poolewe in Wester Ross in 2016, jointly setting up Manta Ecology and Manta Design. Manta Ecology is involved in invasive non-native species control, ecological surveying, monitoring and countryside management. Manta Design is a graphic design business, providing services to environmental bodies and charities. She has taken part in voluntary work for the Lothian Conservation Group whilst spending 20 years as a Graphic Designer, working for the Forestry Commission, Scottish Government, various record labels and private design agencies. Chantal has extensive experience in invasive non-native plant species control. She has conducted ecological surveying and monitoring around the highlands of Scotland for conservation charities and estates, both as a Director of Manta Ecology and as a volunteer. She is also active in the local community, providing graphic design materials for conservation and community charities as well as becoming an active member of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. She has held the ambition to live in Wester Ross since visiting as a child, the combination of sea, mountains and the way of life have always attracted her here. She would love to help promote nature conservation and the bringing of communities together to build a sustainable future.
Name: Cllr Ian Cockburn
Bio: Councillor for Ward 5 (Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh)
Name: Dr Karen Buchanan
Bio: Karen has lived in Gairloch for the past four years and is curator of the Gairloch Heritage Museum. Prior to moving to Gairloch she had a short career in museums/archives in Glasgow and Dundee. Before that, she was an academic, teaching and researching at the University of Strathclyde (Department of Marketing). Her field of expertise was consumer behaviour with specific focus on tourism, arts and heritage consumption. She is interested in the role of biosphere reserves in managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems and believes that the cultural heritage of Wester Ross is so deeply interwoven with the landscape. She feels that engagement with the landscape is, however, often purely on an aesthetic level as knowledge of the areas tangible and intangible cultural heritage are lacking and that the biosphere reserve presents Wester Ross with an outstanding opportunity to develop and deepen the connection between our unique natural and cultural heritage. She believes that in successfully doing so, we can influence visitor behaviour and become a high value/low impact destination with social and economic benefits for both visitors and the resident communities.
Name: Peter Cunningham
Bio: Peter’s background is in geology; aquaculture; then two VSO postings, the first teaching on an integrated agriculture and fisheries campus in Thailand; the other working with villagers as a fisheries development officer on an island in the Mekong River in Laos. He has lived in Wester Ross since 2001 and works as a biologist for Wester Ross Fisheries Trust. At weekends he enjoys working on his croft (vegetable patch, bees and trees; one day maybe his own cow or two . . .), exploring the area (wildlife walks around Gairloch since 2003, snorkelling, trout fishing), going to sea in a kayak (for mackerel or to set a creel) and getting involved with other local community initiatives. He strongly supports the ethos behind the Biosphere and is particularly interested in ways of reviving biological productivity and supporting wildlife populations, agriculture, and fisheries both in freshwater and coastal seas. He recognises the need for finding innovative ways for reducing carbon footprints and with this in mind cycles to work when able to do so. He has not been a director of any organisation before but in previous years he has served as secretary for the Wester Ross Environment Network and for the Gairloch Gathering.
Name: Eamonn Flood
Bio: Eamonn is the joint Director of Manta Ecology, set up in 2016 in Poolewe, Wester Ross. Eamonn has over eight years’ experience in practical conservation and ecology, specialising in upland habitats, having worked as a senior ecologist in ecological consultancy, at Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve (NNR) and at Mar Lodge Estate as a ranger and ecologist for the National Trust for Scotland (NTS). He also has extensive experience of invasive non- native species control (INNS). He has a background in education with previous experience as an English language teacher and outdoor pursuits instructor. Eamonn is an active member of the community, being a member of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, RSPB and John Muir Trust. Moving to Wester Ross in 2016 was the fulfilment of a long-standing ambition to live in a wild and beautiful part of Britain. He has a passion for wild places and the wildlife of Britain and sees the Biosphere as the ideal organisation for integrating the needs and aspirations of local communities with the precious environment of which they are part. He would value the opportunity to play a part in this grand project.
Name: Tom Forrest
Bio: Tom retired from HM Forces in 1993 after having served in numerous locations worldwide for 23 years. He moved to Kinlochewe to run B&B with wife Liz and also ran their Outdoor Shop until 2006. In the 24 years he has been resident in Kinlochewe he has been an active member of Torridon MRT, Volunteer Fireman, Special Constable, Hall Committee and Torridon and Kinlochewe Community Council. He was co-ordinator of Wester Ross out of Hours Health working group, working with and reporting to Scottish Government and CC’s to improve and maintain Out of Hours Healthcare in remote areas. He is a former Chairman of Wester Ross Alliance with particular interest in Biosphere Project, Economic Development and North Atlantic relationships, took the Cape Wrath Trail into the International Appalachian Trail and was founder member of International Appalachian Trail Scotland. He is currently Chairman of Wester Ross Environmental Network (WREN).
Name: Alasdair MacDonald
Bio: Head Keeper and Ghillie at Dundonnell Estate
Name: George Hendry
Bio: George has a background in university-based research in the life sciences within UK and the Continent and is the author of ‘Midges in Scotland’ among many other publications. He has had a house in Wester Ross for over 30 years with his children educated in local schools, where he served as Chair of the Parent Councils. Currently he runs a self-catering tourist business in Lochcarron. He is actively involved in the administration of shinty at local and national levels, in teaching Gaelic, in sailing and boat building. He is also a long-standing member of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth. Between 2014 and 2015 he was involved in the local meetings to establish the bid for the Wester Ross Biosphere Reserve and sees the Biosphere as an opportunity to promote our natural environment internationally, to market our locally grown and produced products including food, drink, crafts and our historic culture.
Name: Donald MacIver
Bio: Donald attended the University of Aberdeen from 1993 to 1998 studying Mental Philosophy and Celtic Studies with a particular interest in Environmental Ethics. He did not graduate. He has been a member of Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team for 19 years and is a keen mountaineer with an active interest in mountain culture across the world. Donald’s key interest in the Wester Ross Biosphere is the recognition, encouragement and support of Gaelic language usage wherever possible, for everyone: fluent, learner or complete beginner (residents and visitors alike). He feels that the culture and the language of Wester Ross, the Highlands and Islands and, indeed, Scotland as a whole, has had a place in shaping our environment and should be key in our understanding of current and future sustainable management.
Name: Kristine MacKenzie
Bio: Kristine is local to the area and works as Development Officer to Lochcarron Community Development Company. She is an active crofter and a Crofting Assessor. Prior to her Development Officer appointment she operated a LANTRA Accredited, Rural Training Skills business. Her day to day workload requires her to regularly engage with crofters, landowners, agencies, businesses and community groups throughout Wester Ross. Over the last 35+ years, whilst maintaining a 20-30 suckler cow herd, she has diversified her crofting activities into horticulture, tourism and forestry, thus providing her with both practical and legislative skills. She has been involved with the Biosphere Project for some considerable time and coming from an agricultural and community development background provides her with a good understanding of how “Man” and the Biosphere can work in unison to showcase the best of Wester Ross. She is aware of several, existing and emerging, community-led development projects, all with the potential to “best sell” the living experience of the place we call Wester Ross.
Name : Anne C. Macrae
Residence : Torridon
Bio : Anne has spent her entire career living and working in Wester Ross and knows the area very well having been brought up on a family croft in Applecross and completing school in Plockton. Following Teacher Training in Aberdeen she lived and taught in Lochcarron and Ullapool for a number of years before becoming Head of Torridon Primary in 1992. Over the last twenty plus years she has enjoyed working with a great range of interesting partnerships to help enhance education within Wester Ross. She is qualified to teach French and Gaelic and also speaks a little German. She has trained as a John Muir Award Leader and is a member of British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) also taking an interest in Sheepdog Trials and breeding Border Collies. As Torridon Primary is currently 'Mothballed' she is currently involved with Youth and Outdoor Education working with Highlife Highland in the Gairloch area. She has travelled across the world but whether it be to Asia, Peru or the Greek Isles she is always happy to return home to Wester Ross and is delighted that UNESCO has now awarded the area World Biosphere Status which should bring new opportunities and recognition. She has been actively involved in the Interim Committee over the last year, helping run the Facebook page and has benefited from meeting with those connected to other UK UNESCO Biospheres in Galloway & South Ayrshire and from looking at educational links with both UHI and WHC staff in Inverness more recently. Exciting times and a chance to showcase all that Wester Ross can offer.
Name: Janet Miles- representing GALE
Bio: Janet is General Manager of Gairloch & Loch Ewe Action Forum (GALE), a community Development Trust serving the Gairloch and Loch Ewe communities. She has a passion for community led regeneration and sustainable development. Over the last 17 years she has grown GALE’s portfolio of projects and income generating capacity to change it from a fully grant funded organisation to a thriving social enterprise employing 15 staff and engaging 40 volunteers. Janet also has a BSc (Hons) in Horticulture, serves as a Non-executive Director of the Development Trust Association Scotland and is a Scottish Land Fund Committee Member.
Name: Audrey Sinclair
Residence: Badicaul, Kyle
Bio: Audrey has lived in Badicaul for 23 years and has taught in many of the primary schools in Lochalsh, South Skye and Lochcarron as well at Plockton High School. She has always had an interest in outdoor pursuits and an appreciation of the area, hence her choice to move here to live. Having been an elected Member of the Highland Council for Wester Ross, Strathpeffer & Lochalsh for the past 10 years, she has a good knowledge of the area and a good working relationship with many groups within the area. Also as part of her council duties, she has been involved in the Highland Environment Forum and chaired the Highland Biodiversity Partnership for a number of years. She made the decision to stand down from the Council in May 2017, enabling her to devote more time to the development of Wester Ross Biosphere projects and community engagement.
Name: Iain Turnbull
Bio: Iain has worked for NTS for 25 years, the last 20 as Property Manager of the Balmacara Estate in Lochalsh which includes one of the Biosphere’s Core Zones. Iain is also a Board member of the West Highland College. He is a graduate in Ecology and Forestry from Edinburgh University with an MPhil in forestry research and an MSc in Geographic Information Systems. He is also an enthusiastic photographer focusing mainly on cultural landscapes and bird photography. Iain has been actively involved in setting up the Biosphere Company and believe this provides an excellent opportunity to bring forward some exciting community-led development projects that reflect the special character of Wester Ross and its people.
Name: Natasha Hutchison – Wester Ross Biosphere Project Officer
Bio: Natasha has been a resident of Lochbroom for 12 years and became involved with the biosphere project after completing her postgraduate studies in Sustainable Mountain Development with Perth College, UHI. Her primary task is to create a 10-year development plan for the biosphere, based on community and stakeholder input. Natasha recognises the special relationship the people of Wester Ross have with their natural environment and is enthusiastic about the opportunity to showcase our region as a model of sustainable development, both nationally and globally.
Name: Laura Hamlet – SHAPE Project Officer for Wester Ross Biosphere
Bio: Laura moved to Wester Ross in 2014 to take up the role of information officer with the North West Highlands Geopark. Since then she has been involved with events planning, research projects and opening a visitor centre/exhibition. She has been heavily involved with a Northern Peripheries and Arctic Program (NPP) project called “Drifting Apart” resulting in new interpretation, products and educational materials for the Geopark. Laura is now delighted to be working with the Biosphere to help deliver a new NPP project called “Sustainable Heritage Areas: Partnerships for Ecotourism”. Through this project it is anticipated that partners in Wester Ross will gain new insights into sustainable tourism management from across the Northern Hemisphere and test out new ecotourism initiatives closer to home.