Meet the Team



The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project is overseen by a Project Advisory Panel made up of representatives of the partner organisations, drawing on knowledge and experience from within their organisations across Scotland to make this a strong and successful project.

Michael Clarke, Chairman

Michael joined the project in early 2020 as our independent chairman. Now a full-time farmer in Dumfries and Galloway, Michael was the Chief Executive Officer for the Buccleuch Group for almost 20 years and before that, Head of the Ministry of Defence's Estates Service. Throughout his career he has shown great commitment to supporting wildlife conservation and biodiversity. He is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society and is a former winner of the RSPB Scotland's Nature of Farming Award. As well as heading up the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project Advisory Panel, Michael is the current Scotland Chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network.

Ross Ewing, Scottish Land & Estates

Ross Ewing was appointed as Director of Moorland at Scottish Land & Estates in July 2022. Living near Comrie, he previously worked as public affairs manager for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) in Scotland. He successfully represented the interests of shooting and country sports in the Scottish Parliament, and was jointly responsible for securing £1 million of Scottish Government funding to support country sports businesses badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Other notable achievements include: leading a high-profile campaign to highlight abuse being directed towards Scottish gamekeepers; producing government-endorsed Covid-19 guidance for country sports; and spearheading efforts to raise awareness of the role trained recreational deer stalkers can play in the management of deer.

At Scottish Land & Estates, Ross leads a small team of policy and communications professionals to effectively represent members with interests in moorland management. He is a member of the organisation’s senior management team, and plays a supporting role in the running of Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups.

Ross holds a first-class honours degree in Geography from the University of St Andrews, as well as a masters degree in sustainable mountain development (with distinction) from the University of the Highlands and Islands. He researched grouse moor and deer management extensively at both institutions. Ross is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Outside of work, Ross enjoys game shooting, deer stalking, hill walking and skiing. He is also a warfare officer in the Royal Naval Reserve specialising in submarine operations.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland

Duncan is Head of Species and Land Management for RSPB Scotland, based in Edinburgh. He is a qualified Chartered Surveyor, and is part of the RSPB’s Scottish Management Team with a particular responsibility for the management of the society’s Scottish nature reserve network; advice to land managers; species recovery and policy work; and its work with the public authorities across the UK to tackle wildlife crime.

Duncan has had a long interest in birds and wildlife since his early teenage years. Subsequently this passion has resulted in travel widely in the UK and abroad to look at birds. His first job with RSPB Scotland was based in the Highlands overseeing the now hugely successful red kite reintroduction programme from the early 1990s. Subsequently he supported other reintroductions of this species to other parts of Scotland, and is now helping more widely with red kite conservation efforts across Europe. Following that he became the RSPB’s representative covering Strathclyde and Central Scotland before taking up his current role in Edinburgh in 1999. In his spare time, Duncan is the Chair of the Central Scotland Raptor Study Group and monitors red kites and other raptor species in his home area of Stirling and west Perthshire. He is accredited as a bird ringer and is qualified to fit GPS satellite tags to various species of raptor including golden eagles and red kites.

Through his work for RSPB Scotland, Duncan has been involved in initiating the East of Scotland Sea Eagle reintroduction programme, as well as working with other partners to develop the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project. He was his organisation’s representative on the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project and has been a member of Scotland’s Moorland Forum since the outset. In recent years, Duncan has been involved in providing advice and technical support to the Saving Asian Vultures from Extinction project working alongside local BirdLife partners in India, and Nepal.

Crispin Hill, NatureScot

Crispin is Operations Manager for NatureScot in their South Area, which extends across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders northwards as far as Fife and westwards into highland Stirlingshire. He leads on wildlife management issues and casework and has particular responsibility for the Scottish Borders region. Prior to this he worked for several years as a ‘Natura’ adviser specialising in providing advice nationally on all aspects of European site designations (SACs and SPAs). This has included work on a diverse range of issues including the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland and delivering environmental assessment CPD across the country for CIEEM as a guest trainer. Crispin also sits on the Steering Group of the Wild Heart Expansion Project (WHEP), an ecological restorative project centred on the Southern Uplands.

Crispin graduated with a degree in Geography and later completed MSc courses at Stirling University in Environmental Management, and Heriot-Watt University in Urban and Regional Planning. Prior to joining NatureScot he worked as a falconer for over a decade, working with a wide range of raptors including golden eagles. Beginning at Gleneagles, he later set up and ran a successful falconry business in the Republic of Ireland from 2000 to 2008 before switching careers into conservation.

Juli Titherington, Scottish Forestry

Juli is the Environment Policy Advisor for Scottish Forestry, leading on Biodiversity – species and habitats.

Scottish Forestry (SF) develops and delivers policies to address the Scottish Government’s priorities and directly advises Scottish Ministers on matters relating to forestry. We manage forestry regulations and grants, support the development of the forestry industry and woodland expansion, as well as seek to enhance for the benefit of all the social, economic and environmental benefits of forestry. Juli focuses on the development of advice on forest policy and practice for biodiversity, particularly issues in relation to forest habitats, species, and wider ecosystems. She works with colleagues in SF and SG to help promote sustainable forest management and provide information regarding native & semi-natural woodlands, invasive non-native species, protected & priority species. Juli also works collaboratively with a range of stakeholders to support landscape scale habitat connectivity and management to protect and expand the range of key protected and priority woodland species.

Juli completed her undergraduate degree, in Environmental Studies at Bucknell University, in the US, and her MSc in Environmental Management at University of Stirling. Prior to her current post at SF, Juli was at FLS, as a Regional Environment Advisor, spent a few years at SNH (now NatureScot) as a species licensing officer, and held several roles in various environmental consultancies. She is a full member of CIEEM, currently holding the post of Scotland Committee Vice-convenor.

Cara Gillespie, Southern Uplands Partnership

Cara Gillespie is Chief Executive of the Southern Uplands Partnership, which support communities across South Scotland to make environmentally sustainable use of their natural and cultural resources. After graduating from Edinburgh University, Cara has held a number of roles, including in the Scottish Parliament, as Chief of Staff for the Scottish Green Party 2003-2007 and then based in Dumfries and Galloway since 2009, where she now lives in Gatehouse of Fleet. She has worked in social enterprise and also run her own consultancy, specialising in third sector governance, strategy, business planning and stakeholder engagement. Cara was Foundation Scotland’s Community Engagement Manager for South Scotland for six years, developing and delivering a portfolio of community benefit funds in Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire. Cara also currently chairs the Scottish Land Fund Committee.

Rory Kennedy, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

Rory is Director Scotland for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, a research-led conservation charity that focusses on working with managers and stewards of productive land to deliver biodiversity outcomes. The trust’s approach is to work across landscapes, rather than land exclusively managed for conservation purposes.

Rory’s background is as a Chartered Accountant, with a particular focus on the rural sector, economic development and tourism. He has held various senior and board positions across land use, conservation and the arts