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Alison Hester

Staff picture: Alison Hester
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Sciences
Senior Scientist and Baillie Gifford Entrepreneurial Research Fellow
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Professor Alison Hester FRSB FRSGS is a senior scientist and Baillie Gifford Entrepreneurial Research Fellow at the James Hutton Institute, UK. She did her Degree at King’s College University of London, PhD at Aberdeen University/CEH and a Royal Society Postdoctoral Fellowship at CSIRO Western Australia. Alison has over 30 years research experience (with c200 scientific publications and contract reports) and an international reputation in biodiversity, conservation and land management. Much of her research forms an integral part of large, interdisciplinary projects and she works closely with scientists, land managers, communities and policy-makers in different parts of the world. In recent years she has taken a lead role in bringing together and managing diverse teams of scientists in the highly interdisciplinary research area of natural capital and Ecosystem Services, both within the institute and through a range of international collaborations.

Alison is currently leading a new Climate-Positive Farming initiative for the Institute which is exploring transformative approaches to upland farming, with innovations in technology and in ways of working.

Alison is also a trained, experienced facilitator and project manager (in the last ten years she has been project manager/principal investigator on projects totalling >£15million). She is highly skilled in science communication and networking, as well as an experienced supervisor, trainer, reviewer and external examiner (nationally and internationally). Alison has extensive practical experience in the logistics of international research, e.g. negotiating, establishing and servicing experimental sites in remote areas, community-based management of natural resources, stakeholder consultations, multi-national workshops and policy communications. She works closely with scientists, land managers, communities, policy makers and Governments in different parts of the world and has contributed as an author and advisor for UK initiatives such as the National Ecosystem Assessment. Alison serves on numerous Committees and Steering groups, including the Natural Capital Initiative,and ALTER-Net Council: Europe’s Ecosystem Research Network. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

Current research interests

Alison's research interests and experience lie in applied biodiversity and natural resource management, with a particular focus on plant:herbivore interactions, climate and other drivers of change (particularly in forest and upland systems). Examples of her ongoing research include climate-change resilience and adaptation; multifunctional land management; connectivity and networks; current and potential conflicts between land management targets for biodiversity versus changing agricultural and other demands; interactive effects of climate and herbivores driving major global habitat and species changes.


  • Hester, A.; Ross, L.; Britton, A. (2016) Drivers of long-term biodiversity change - key Scottish habitats in a European context., In: Irvine, R.J. (ed.) Biodiversity and Upland Management. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, Chapter 9, pp20-21.
  • Mitchell, R.; Hewison, R.; Britton, A.; Pakeman, R.J.; Hester, A. (2016) Long-term changes in Scottish grassland plant communities., In: Pakeman, R.J. (ed.). Grassland Biodiversity. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp4-5.
  • Quine, C.; Cahalan, C.; Hester, A.J.; Humphrey, J.; Kirby, K.; Moffat, A.; Valatin, G. (2011) Woodlands., In: UK National Ecosystem Assessment. Understanding Nature's Value to Society. Technical Report. Cambridge, UNEP-WCMC, Chapter 8, pp241-293.
  • Ross, L.C.; Woodin, S.J.; Hester, A.J.; Thompson, D.B.A.; Birks, H.J.B. (2011) Is the vegetation of the North-West Highlands changing? Results from a 50-year re-visitation study of major upland vegetation types., In: Marrs, S.J., Foster, S., Hendrie, C., Mackey, E.C. & Thompson, D.B.A. (eds.). The Changing Nature of Scotland. TSO Scotland, Edinburgh, Chapter 3, 429-434.
  • Skarpe, C.; Hester, A.J. (2008) Plant traits, browsing and grazing herbivores, and vegetation dynamics., In: Gordon, I.J. & Prins, H.H.T. (eds.). The Ecology of Browsing and Grazing. Ecological Studies 195, Springer, Berlin, pp217-262.
  • Hester, A.J.; Brooker, R.W. (2007) Threatened habitats: marginal vegetation in upland areas., In: Hester, R.E. & Harrison, R.M. (eds.). Biodiversity under Threat. Issues in Environmental Science and Technology 25, Royal Society of Chemistry, London, pp106-134. ISBN: 9780854042517
  • Hester, A.J.; Lempa, K.; Neuvonen, S.; Hoegh, K.; Feilberg, J.; Arnthorsdottir, S.; Iason, G.R. (2006) Birch sapling responses to severity and timing of domestic herbivore browsing - implications for management., In: Plant Ecology, Herbivory and Human Impact in Nordic Mountain Birch Forests (eds. F.E. Wielgolaski). Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, pp139-155.
  • Hester, A.J.; Bergman, M.; Iason, G.R.; Moen, J. (2006) Impacts of large herbivores on plant community structure and dynamics., In: Large Herbivore Ecology, Ecosystem Dynamics and Conservation (eds. K. Danell, R. Bergstrom, P. Duncan and J. Pastor). Cambridge University Press, pp97-141
  • Wright, I.A.; Duncan, A.J.; Clemens, J.; Rahman, A.; Raja, O.; Gordon, I.J.; Hester, A.J.; Raffique, S.M.; Atiq-ur-Rehman, F. Ali; Baig, A. (2005) A systems approach to understanding constraints and opportunities., In: Livestock, Food, Pastures and People: a Systems Study in the Northern Areas of Pakistan (eds. I.A. Wright and A.J. Duncan). ICIMOD, Kathmandu, pp57-67.
  • Towers, W.; Hester, A.J.; Malcolm, A.; Hall, J.; Stone, D. (2004) The potential for native woodland in Scotland: the native woodland model., Natural Heritage Management Series. Scottish Natural Heritage, Battleby, Perth. 56p. Includes CD ROM. ISBN: 1 85397 390 4
  • Hester, A.J.; Birnie, R.V.B.; Lund, J. (eds.) (1999) Grazing management options for native woodlands., Proceedings of Seminar held jointly by the Native Woodlands Discussion Group and the Hill Land Use and Ecology Discussion Group, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen, 23 April 1998. 121pp.
  • Hester, A.J.; Kirby, K.J.; Mitchell, E.J.G.; Gill, R.M.A.; Latham, J.; Armstrong, H. (1998) Ungulates and forest management in the British Isles., In: Grazing as a management tool in European forest ecosystems: a review of research priorities. (eds. J.W Humphrey, R.M.A. Gill and J. Claridge). Forestry Commission Technical Paper 25, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. pp25-36.
  • Thompson, D.B.A., Hester, A.J. and Usher, M.B. (1995) Heaths and Moorlands: Cultural Landscapes., HMSO, Edinburgh, 1995.

  • Hester, A.J.; Aguado, S.; Britton, A.J. (2020) Analysing habitat patch size and connectivity at a national level for Scotland - data assessment part 2: HabMoS., James Hutton Institute, 29pp.
  • Hester, A.J.; Scholtens, R. (2019) Analysing habitat patch size and connectivity at a national level for Scotland - data assessment., James Hutton Institute, 14pp.
  • Brooker, R.; Thomson, S.; Matthews, K.B.; Hester, A.J.; Newey, S.; Pakeman, R.J.; Miller, D.R.; Mell, V.; Aalders, I.H.; McMorran, R.; Glass, J. (2018) Socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors in Scotland: Summary report., Report to Scottish Government as part of the outputs from a PAWSA project, 19pp.
  • Brooker, R.W.; Hester, A.J.; Newey, S.; Pakeman, R.J. (2018) Socio-economic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors in Scotland: Part 2 Biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors in Scotland., Report to Scottish Government as part of Grouse Moor Management PAWSA Project, 49pp.
  • Eastwood, A.; Juarez Bourke, A.; Lorenzo-Arribas, A.; Fischer, A.; Herrett, S.; Donaldson-Selby, G.; Hague, A.; Pakeman, R.J.; Hester, A.J.; Artz, R.R.E. (2018) Glen Creran Woods: Exploring the perceived impacts of different management interventions on woodland benefits., Workshop Report, Appin Village Hall, Port Appin, Argyll, 23 April 2018, 18pp.
  • Hester, A.J. (2017) NATURE CONNECTIONS: Working together to enhance Scotland’s environment, biodiversity and resilience to climate change., NATURE CONNECTIONS: A Scoping Workshop for Collaborative Action, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Edinburgh, 15 March 2017. Workshop Report, 23pp.
  • Chapman, S.J.; Hester, A.J.; Irvine, R.J.; Pakeman, R.J. (2017) Muirburn peatland and peat soils - an evidence assessment., Final Report to CXC calldown.
  • Irvine, R.J.; Miller, D.R.; Artz, R.R.E.; Brooker, R.; Chapman, S.J.; Newey, S.; Hester, A.J.; Pakeman, R.J. (2016) Scoping a strategic vision for the uplands: A response from the James Hutton Institute., Response to a Consultation for Scottish Natural Heritage.
  • Angeli, D.; Acreman, M.; Bellingan, L.; Caine, J.; Hails, R.; Hester, A.J.; Margerison, C. (2015) Valuing our life support systems 2014. Summit summary report., Natural Capital Initiative 2015. Summit Summary Report, 47pp.
  • Mitchell, R.J.; Broome, A.; Harmer, R.; Beaton, J.K.; Bellamy, P.E.; Brooker, R.W.; Duncan, R.; Ellis, C.J.; Hester, A.J.; Hodgetts, N.G.; Iason, G.R.; Littlewood, N.A.; Mackinnon, M.; Pakeman, R.J.; Pozsgai, G.; Ramsey S.; Riach, D.; Stockan, J. A.; Taylor, A.F.S.; Woodward, S. (2014) Assessing and addressing the impacts of ash dieback on UK woodlands and trees of conservation importance (Phase 2)., Natural England Report.
  • Hewison, R.L.; Hester, A.J.; Torvell, L. (2013) Ben Lawers cattle grazing site: Assessment of vegetation change 1993-2001., Report.
  • Mitchell, R.J.; Bailey, S.; Beaton, J.K.; Bellamy, P.E.; Brooker, R.W.; Broome, A.; Chetcuti, J.; Eaton, S.; Ellis, C.J.; Farren, J.; Gimona, A.; Goldberg, E.; Hall, J.; Harmer, R.; Hester, A.J.; Hewison, R.L.; Hodgetts, N.G.; Hooper, R.J.; Howe, L.; Iason, G.R.; Kerr, G.; Littlewood, N.A.; Morgan, V.; Newey, S.; Potts, J.M.; Pozsgai, G.; Ray, D.; Sim, D.A.; Stockan, J.A.; Taylor, A.F.S.; Woodward, S. (2013) Ash dieback: impacts on other species and understanding the ecology of ash., Report to JNCC.
  • Brooker, R.; Aalders, I.H.; Ballingall, K.; Begg, G.; Birch, A.N.E.; Elliott, G.; Ellis, C.; Freitag, T.; Hawes, C.; Holland, J.; Holmes, B.; Hough, R.L.; Karley, A.; McCracken, D.; Mitchell, R.; Stockan, J.; Zadoks, R.; Albon, S.A.; Hester, A.J.; Pakeman, R.J. (2013) Biotic and biophysical underpinning of ecosystem services in the Scottish context: a review., Published online as an outputs from WP 1.1 of the Ecosystem Services Theme of the SRP.
  • Dawson, L.A.; Morrice, J.; Miller, D.R.; Hester, A.J.; Stutter, M.I.; Matthews, K.B.; Stott, A. (2013) Strategic Research Programme: Programme 1 Environmental Change, Report for 2012/13., Report to RESAS, 3 May 2013.
  • Miller, D.R.; Morrice, J.; Aspinall, P.; Brown, K.M.; Cummins, R.; Dinnie, E.; Gilbert, A.; Hester, A.J.; Horne, P.; Mitchell, R.; Morris, S.; Roe, J.; Thompson, C.W. (2012) Contribution of green and open space in public health and well-being., Scottish Government, Green Health Progress Report, 2012. Project No. MLU/ECA/UGW/847/08
  • Miller, D.R.; Morrice, J.; Aspinall, P.; Brewer, M.; Brown, K.; Cummins, R.; Dinnie, E.; Donaldson-Selby, G.; Hester, A.J.; Horne, P.; Mitchell, R.; Morris, S.; Munoz-Rojas, J. (2012) GreenHealth progress report., Project Progress Report May 2012.
  • Pakeman, R.J.; Stockan, J.; Taylor, A.F.S.; Hester, A.J. (2012) Comments on the Cairngorm Nature Draft Action Plan from the James Hutton Institute., Cairngorms National Park Consultation on the Cairngorms Nature Draft Action Plan.
  • Miller, D.R.; Morrice, J.G.; Aspinall, P.; Brown, K.; Cummins, R.; Dinnie, E.; Gilbert, A.; Hester, A.; Horne, P.; Mitchell, R.; Morris, S.; Roe, J.; Ward Thompson, C. (2011) Contribution of green and open space in public health and well-being., RERAD, Scottish Government, Progress Report 2010/11. Project no. MLU/ECA/UGW/847/08.
  • Miller, D.R.; Morrice, J.G.; Aspinall, P.; Brown, K.; Cummins, R.; Dinnie, E.; Gilbert, A.; Hester, A.J.; Horne, P.L.; Mitchell, R.; Morris, S.; Roe, J.; Ward Thompson, C. (2011) GreenHealth., RERAD, Scottish Government, Progress Report, 2010/11.
  • Towers, W.; Hester, A.J.; Pakeman, R.; Artz, R.R.E.; Chapman, S.J.; Littlewood, L.; Legg, C. (2010) Review of muirburn impacts on soil carbon and biodiversity., Invited presentation to the Scottish LFA Stakeholder Group.

Scientific posters/conferences

Printed from /staff/alison-hester on 05/07/20 08:30:16 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.