Natural England - Review groups and independent experts' biographies

Review groups and independent experts' biographies

Review groupMembers
Overall Assurance GroupProfessor Colin Galbraith (chair)
Dr Tim Hill (Natural England Chief Scientist)
Mr Simon Pepper (OBE)
Professor Maggie Gill (OBE)
Livestock Review GroupDr Angela Moffat (Natural England Head of Profession & chair)
Dr Mariecia Fraser
Professor Robin Pakeman
Hay Meadow Management Review GroupDr Pete Brotherton (Natural England Head of Profession & chair)
Dr Carly Stevens
Professor David Gowing
Tracks Review GroupMr Mike Grace (Natural England Head of Profession & chair)
Mr Simon Thorp
Dr Alan Dykes
Burning Review GroupDr Mike Morecroft (Natural England Head of Profession & chair)
Dr Richard Lindsay
Professor Rob Marrs
Dr Fred Worrall
Peatland Restoration Review GroupDr Ruth Waters (Natural England Head of Profession & chair)
Dr Simon Caporn
Dr Jill Labadz

Independent experts' biographies

Dr Simon Caporn

BSc in Biology (York) and PhD in Plant Physiology (Sussex) and is now a Reader in Ecology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Since 1989, the focus of his research and teaching has been on the ecology of bogs and heathland plant communities, with particular interests in the impacts of air pollution and climate change. He has run a nitrogen manipulation experiment on heather moorland in Wales for over 20 years. This has been part of the Defra research programme into acidification and eutrophication of terrestrial ecosystems. Within this programme Simon recently led a research work-package on bioindicators of nitrogen eutrophication in varied UK habitats. Simon is leader of a NERC-funded climate change manipulation experiment on raised bogs which examines effects of warming and lowering of the water table on carbon and nutrient cycling and the plant ecology. In recent years Simon has performed research in collaboration with Moors for the Future on restoration of degraded blanket bog in the Southern Pennines with a focus on the recovery and restoration of Sphagnum.

Dr Alan Dykes

Alan is a Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at Kingston University, but from a geography background. He applied his research expertise in hillslope hydrology and stability to the problem of peatland instability and landslides, initially as part of an ongoing programme of research on Cuilcagh Mountain, Northern Ireland, where he was involved with an early implementation of the ‘floating road’ method of track construction on peat.

His research into peat instability arising from natural and anthropogenic causes – including the construction of tracks/floating roads – has continued since 1997 and has included two PhD projects. This work has been funded and supported by Fermanagh District Council, Royal Geographical Society, Natural Environment Research Council, British Society for Geomorphology, The Royal Society, Huddersfield University and Kingston University. He has been engaged as a specialist consultant on peat stability for projects undertaken by Countryside Council for Wales, Hyder Consulting Ltd., URS Australia Pty Ltd. and Applied Ground Engineering Consultants (AGEC) Ltd., working on sites in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Australia. He has been invited to speak on the topic at international conferences and industry-focused seminars. He has a unique view of the topic that integrates geomorphological, hydrological and geotechnical perspectives.

Dr Mariecia Fraser

Principal Investigator at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, and was formerly Officer-in-Charge of the Upland Research Centre at Bronydd Mawr. She has a background in animal science and grazing ecology, and specialises in developing and testing management strategies for upland systems. Her research interests include species and breed differences in diet selection, conservation grazing, greenhouse gas emissions from grazing animals, and the bio-energy potential of semi-natural grasslands.

Professor Colin Galbraith

Was responsible for the delivery of policy advice on the natural heritage and for the management of the research programme for Scottish Natural Heritage until 2010. He has a scientific background relating to species ecology and management. He has been involved in a number of high profile land use and conservation management issues in the British uplands over recent years.

He has been Chair (2001-2006) and Vice Chair (2006 – 2011) of the Scientific Council to the Convention on Migratory Species (a UN Convention with 117 Parties or member countries), dealing with the ecology and conservation of migratory species at the global level. He is now the Appointed Councillor on climate change for the Convention. He was a member of the Board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment; an assessment of global biodiversity funded by the UN and World Bank.

Professor Maggie Gill (OBE)

Started her career as a livestock nutritionist researching how to maximise meat and milk production from forages. Realising that was contributing to milk lakes and butter mountains in the 1980s she switched from temperate to tropical agriculture and also developed a strong interest in how to reduce the negative impact of livestock on the environment, while making effective use of natural resources, including land. From 2000 to 2006 Maggie was Director of the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and from 2006 to March 2011, Chief Scientific Adviser for Rural Affairs and Environment in the Scottish Government. She is professor of Integrated land Use at the University of Aberdeen on a part-time (40%) contract, seconded for 1 day per week to work for the Department for International Development and is a member of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research’s Independent Science and Partnership Council.

Professor David Gowing

Trained as a botanist at Cambridge and his early research at Lancaster University investigated the water requirements of crops. He then moved to Cranfield University to work with hydrologists on the management of water for nature conservation. It was here that he developed his interest in competition between species and in the factors determining plant-community composition. He led some major research projects in this area, funded by MAFF (now Defra) during the 1990s, before transferring to the Open University, where he continues his research on species-rich grassland and where he helped to found the Floodplain Meadows Partnership, which he currently directs. The partnership aims to maintain long-term monitoring schemes and to facilitate information exchange between all organisations interested in the conservation of this remarkable, yet threatened, habitat.

Dr Jill Labadz

Undertook her PhD on stream runoff and sedimentation linked to blanket peat erosion in the Peak District National Park and has extensive experience over 25 years of research related to the restoration of both lowland raised bogs and upland blanket bogs. In 2010-12 she led a review of peatland hydrology for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commission on UK Peatlands. 

In 2007 she was responsible for a team reviewing the management and restoration of blanket peat for DEFRA.  A major research project from 2002 to date in the Peak District (Ashop catchment) has been funded by Severn Trent Water and the National Trust, investigating the impact of blanket peat restoration (gully blocking and cessation of burning and grazing) on peatland hydrology, water quality (including dissolved organic carbon) and vegetation. 

Another project funded by Natural England (since 2003) has investigated hydrology at Bolton Fell Moss, contributing to its designation as a SAC (Special Area of Conservation) under the EU Habitats Directive.

Dr Richard Lindsay

Worked for the Nature Conservancy Council for several years in the late 1970s/early 1980s and in 1982 he was appointed Senior Peatland Specialist within the Chief Scientist’s Team. Between then and 1992 he worked on a series of major peatland conservation issues, including Duich Moss on Islay with David Bellamy, the Peat Campaign to promote the use of non-peat composts, and forestry in the Flow Country. He assembled the first national peatland GIS database (the National Peatland Resource Inventory). He was a founder-member, and first Chairman, of the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG), which is the international network of peatland conservation experts. In 1992, he was transferred to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), as SNH's peatland specialist, where he was responsible for drawing up the list of peatland sites to be protected as part of the EU Natura 2000 network. Richard left SNH in 1996 to pursue international peatland conservation work for 18 months, working in Latvia, France, Australia, China and Japan, and assisted in the development of a global peatland conservation action plan for the Ramsar Convention. He was elected Honorary Life Member of the IMCG at the Millennium Wetland Conference in Quebec, 2000.

Richard joined University of East London Institute for Health and Human Development in 1997, to re-shape and update the conservation degrees being offered. The resulting degree programmes have since seen many graduates go on to work in the UK conservation agencies, as well as for conservation bodies as far afield as China and Mexico. Within the research field he is responsible for assembling and presenting several key peatland conservation cases, as well as a number of substantial management and monitoring programmes, at both a national and international level.

Professor Rob Marrs

Bulley Professor of Applied Biology within the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool. He arrived there via research on soil-plant relationships and restoration ecology at Liverpool and at Monks Wood Experimental Station. He has wide-ranging interests in understanding how ecosystems change and how they can be manipulated towards specified end-points.

Whilst at Monks Wood, he was heavily influenced by A.S. Watt (University of Cambridge) and the members of the former lowland grassland section. Terry Wells, in particular, enthused him into applying long-term experimental approaches to tackling conservation problems. A chance discussion with Bill Heal persuaded him to assist with the monitoring of the long-term experiments at Moor House and he continued with this until the site was taken under the wing of the Ecological Change Network (ECN). Since moving to Liverpool he shut down his 18-year experiments in Breckland, but started some new bracken control experiments, two of which are still running (one in its 17th season, the other in its 9th). Recently he has also revisited the Moor House data and is striving to complete these analyses.

Professor Robin Pakeman

Senior ecologist at the James Hutton Institute. He has experience of working in a wide range of ecosystems (sand dunes, Machair, moorland and peatland, upland and lowland grassland, heathland, woodland, scrub and bracken). Within these systems he is interested in long-term vegetation dynamics, seed dispersal and regeneration, habitat management by grazing animals and restoration. His current research interests are also focussed on the functional characterisation of vegetation and its linkage with ecosystem processes. He co-leads the Scottish Government programme of work on “Resilience of Scotland’s biodiversity to climate change and land-use change”.

He is a Visiting Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Liverpool University, Honorary Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Aberdeen University and a member of the both SNH’s Scientific Advisory Committee and the Upland Ecosystem Group of the Scottish Biodiversity Committee. He is an editor of Biological Conservation and a subject editor of Oikos.

Mr Simon Pepper (OBE)

Was founding director of WWF Scotland 1985-2005, awarded OBE for services to sustainable development in 2000. He has served as an external appointee to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Sustainable Scotland (chaired by First Minister) 2004-7, and terms of office on the Deer Commission and the National Committee of FC Scotland. He is now chairman of the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund Panel, and sits on the board of Scottish Natural Heritage. He is also recently retired as the founding chairman of the Andrew Raven Trust. He and his wife run a small farm/woodland property in Perthshire.

Dr Carly Stevens

Lecturer in Ecosystem Services at Lancaster University. Carly is a grassland ecologist with over ten years experience of grassland research. She completed her PhD in 2004 at The Open University and has since worked as a research scientist for several institutions including The Open University and Imperial College London. The focus of Carly’s research is the impact of global change on grassland habitats and she has a particular interest in the nitrogen cycle and atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Carly’s work has included a wide range of grasslands habitats including acid and calcareous grasslands and hay meadows in the UK and prairies in the USA. Carly is currently working on a number of projects with collaborative partners in the UK, USA, Australia, and Spain.

Mr Simon Thorp

Director of The Heather Trust since May 2002. Prior to this, he gained extensive experience as a chartered surveyor working in rural management.

From its base in Dumfries, The Heather Trust promotes an integrated approach to moorland management in all parts of the UK working with private owners, government agencies, farmers and NGOs and has links to all the main organisations with interests in the uplands.

Simon Thorp is Director of Scotland’s Moorland Forum, which has a membership of 30 organisations, and he chairs the Muirburn and Peatland Working Groups of the Forum. He is Vice-Chairman of the England and Wales Wildfire Forum, a member of the Moorland Burning Working Group in England (that reviewed the Heather and Grass Burning Code), a member of the Scottish Wildfire Forum. Recently he was asked to set up and then coordinate the Bracken Control Group that operates throughout the UK.

In his spare time, he enjoys sailing (to get away from it all) and keeps a yacht on the west coast of Scotland.

Dr Fred Worrall

Reader in environmental chemistry at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Durham. He has over 16 years’ experience of running research projects for a range of organisations including research councils (NERC, EPSRC, ESRC and BBSRC), government agencies (including Defra and Natural England), charities and private industry. Fred’s research, which presently consists of 9 researchers, has specialised in the carbon dynamics of peat soils and his was the first research group to measure a complete carbon budget for a peat soil. He was lead author of both the IUCN burning review and the JNCC review of greenhouse gas fluxes from UK Peatlands.