Born in Edinburgh, Ian has a BSc in Ecology from the University of Durham and a PhD in Zoology from the University of Leeds.
From 1984-1991 he worked in The Scottish Office on a range of subject areas including housing, industrial policy, criminal justice and urban renewal.
Ian joined the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland in 1991 as Regional Director for the North East and continued in that role with the formation of SNH in 1992. In 1997 Ian became Director of Strategy and Operations (East), responsible for all SNH’s operational activities in the East of Scotland and had national responsibilities for SNH’s policies on protected areas including implementation of European Directives on Wild Birds and on Habitats and Species, and national policy responsibility for environmental education. He was President of Eurosite 2007-2010 and a member of IUCN’s World Protected Areas Leadership Forum 2002-2011.
Ian was Chief Executive of SNH from 2002-2017, but spent a year 2015/16 on secondment to the European Commission to support the fitness check of the European Nature Directives. On 1 August 2017 Ian was appointed as National Adviser on Environmental Policy working with Scottish Government to support the development of future environmental policy, particularly in the light of the UK Government’s intention to withdraw from the European Union.