New Natural Capital Team To Help Drive Just & Fair Economy In South 

A new team has been created at South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) aimed at ensuring the South’s natural assets are deployed to maximise the economic success and wellbeing of the region.


SOSE’s new Natural Capital team will help to ensure these natural assets drive the Wellbeing Economy in the region, in line with the vision of the South of Scotland Regional Economic Strategy.


Natural capital considers the natural environment as an asset providing a wide range of essential services to our communities and economy.


It delivers such things as healthy food and renewable energy, flood protection and forestry resources, carbon storage, cultural landscapes that support our creative and tourism industries and habitats for a diverse range of plants and animals.


The new team will look to harness and enhance the contribution that the South of Scotland’s natural capital makes, by forging new partnerships and influencing both local and national strategies and projects.


By working with the wealth of expertise in business and community development in SOSE, the Natural Capital team will help showcase the innovative practises. They will also aim to celebrate SOSE’s commitment in rebuilding our natural capital to deliver a just and fair economy.


SOSE’s Natural Capital team consists of:


  • Jayne Ashley – Head of Natural Capital. Jayne has been a sustainability practitioner for over 30 years, advising, facilitating, and mentoring communities and the private and public sectors, from local to European level.  She is creating and leading the new Natural Capital team, building on her knowledge and skills in community wealth building, creative and cultural industries, natural resources, tourism, and the creation of the Regional Land Use Partnership.


  • Rob Davidson – Strategy Manager, Community Wealth Building. Rob has extensive experience working with a wide variety of community groups during his 15 years as a Councillor with Dumfries and Galloway Council, including five years as Depute Leader. His role is to strengthen and empower local communities and economies to be able to retain the wealth they create within their local areas and move us towards a just, equitable and sustainable society.  Rob stepped down as Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee on Wednesday 23 February ahead of taking this SOSE role, and has chosen not to stand again as a Councillor at the upcoming Local Government elections in May 2022.


  • Mark Geddes – Strategy Manager, Cultural and Creative Industries.  Mark has worked in economic development for the past 17 years developing strategies, initiatives and supporting business in the creative industries, tourism, and food & drink sectors.  Prior to this he had a successful career in hospitality spanning 10 years in Edinburgh, the Highlands and Dumfries.  His role is to support and enhance the wealth of creative and cultural activity in the South of Scotland, employing his skills and knowledge as a published author and a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art.


  • Mark Rowley – Strategy Manager, Tourism. Mark has significant experience working in the tourism industry, including over 25 years with leading hotel and restaurant businesses in Edinburgh. His experience extends to his time as a Councillor with Scottish Borders Council, where he has been involved in a number of tourism initiatives. His role is to drive the development and recognition of the South of Scotland as a dynamic tourism destination, based on Fair Work and sustainability principles.  Mark is currently Leader of Scottish Borders Council but ahead of taking this SOSE role, he has stepped down from his responsibilities for economic development and tourism.


  • Andy Tharme – Project Manager, Regional Land Use Partnerships. Andy has been involved in land use, ecology, and nature conservation for over 30 years, and is currently seconded from Scottish Borders Council.  His role is to deliver the Scottish Government pilot Regional Land Use Partnership, to explore and understand competing land uses and deliver nature-based solutions that support the Wellbeing Economy whilst addressing biodiversity loss and the impacts of climate change.


A sixth role – Strategy Manager for Natural Resources – will complete the team and will be advertised shortly.


Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of SOSE, said: 


“The South of Scotland has made progress in managing our resources in a more sustainable way, but we must go further.
“By embracing innovation and technology, we can support and develop sustainable tourism, protect biodiversity, lower carbon footprints and develop nature-based solutions to problems.
“Working with partners and SOSE colleagues, that is what our new Natural Capital team will aim to do and support the South deliver a Just Transition to Net Zero.”
Jayne Ashley added:
“Natural Capital is a critical infrastructure for the South of Scotland’s future development.
“We need to understand how it works, how to value it and help it realise all the opportunities it offers across the region.
“We need to harness and enhance our region’s wealth of natural capital with the creativity and innovation of our businesses and communities in order to deliver nature-based solutions.
“This is such an exciting and critical area and I cannot wait to work with my new and existing colleagues and partners to make this happen.”