John Muir Trust reveals its new chief executive

A respected Highland conservationist and mountaineer has been appointed chief executive of the John Muir Trust.

The John Muir Trust has revealed David Balharry, one of Scotland’s most respected community-focused conservationists, in the post, following the retirement of Andrew Bachell.

The John Muir Trust is a Scottish charity, established in 1983 to conserve wild land and places for the benefit of all. The trust campaigns for better protection of wild land.

David, who lives in the village of Cannich and grew up Kinlochewe, Newtonmore and Alford, joins the Trust from the Scottish Government where he was responsible for looking at rural policy.

He has also been a director of Rewilding Britain and previously worked for six years for the Crofters Commission (latterly as acting Chief Executive), and as Technical Director of the Deer Commission for Scotland.

He studied Zoology at Aberdeen University and went on to do a PhD on the ecology of pine martens. He is a director of the Strathglass and Affric Community Company and promotes Community Action Planning that links with land management. In his spare time he enjoys mountaineering, sea kayaking and building log cabins. He is a former manager of Strathglass Shinty Club and played for both Strathglass and Newtonmore.

David said: ‘I believe it’s an absolute necessity that we protect wild places – particularly by empowering people and engaging rural communities. The John Muir Trust works at the forefront of issues I’ve been passionate about my whole life. I’m looking forward to starting, and engaging with members, partners, staff, trustees and those people and organisations that share common interests with us.’

Peter Pearson, chair of the John Muir Trust, added: ‘We are all delighted that David will be joining the Trust team and look forward to working with him.’

Peter also thanked Andrew Bachell for his successful two years as Chief Executive and said: ‘We wish Andrew well in his retirement; he leaves the organisation in as healthy a situation as we’ve been in for some time. During his time with us he oversaw a new strategy, built an effective staff team and continued growth in our support and membership.’

David will take up his role on 27 January 2020 after a climbing trip to Patagonia where he and his son will attempt Cerro Torre, one of the spires in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field of South America; standing at 3,128 m (10,262 ft), the peak is challenging and the summit is protected by some of the world’s most spectral ice mushrooms.

Until then, leadership of the Trust is being shared by the organisation’s management team, supported by the Trustees.