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Who’s Who

Mark Cunliffe Lister



Mark is a born and bred Yorkshireman and was elected Chair of the Moorland Association in April 2020 having been a member of the Board for 3 years.

Mark qualified with and MSc in Geophysics from Imperial College, London and worked in oil and mineral exploration on mainly overseas projects. In 2000 he and his wife Felicity returned to Swinton, near Ripon in North Yorkshire and bought back the family home, Swinton Park. This was then refurbished and opened as a hotel, which has since been expanded.

In 2006 Mark inherited the 20,000 acre Swinton Estate including 8000 acres of heather moorland, 2000 acres of woodland and majority of the farms are upland sheep farms.  Since then Mark and Felicity have worked towards creating a fully sustainable enterprise with Swinton Park at its centre. Other activities on offer include a clay pigeon ground, Fishing School and Birds of Prey Centre. The estate straddles Nidderdale AONB and the Yorkshire Dales National Park, acclaimed for its landscapes and wildlife and Swinton Estate is proud to play its part in their conservation and public awareness.

Mark takes a keen interest in both the local community and promoting the wider policy aspects of maintaining a sustainable land-based upland community. This includes setting up the Mashamshire Community Office, sitting on Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, he is President of Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust and Chairman of CLA Forestry and Woodlands committee.

Tom Orde-Powlett



Tom Orde-Powlett is involved with all aspects of the management of his family’s Bolton Estate in Wensleydale, which includes tourism, farming, minerals, renewable energy, forestry, weddings, education, fishing and shooting.

He holds trustee/directorships of two other diverse rural estates in Yorkshire and Shropshire and also sits on The CLA’s Yorkshire Committee.

Tom has a passionate interest in maximising conservation gain through economically sustainable land use, conflict resolution and has a strong personal interest in the Eurasian curlew.

He was a founding director of The Ure Salmon Trust, former Trustee of The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust and is an active member of The British Trust for Ornithology, The Countryside Alliance, GWCT, RSPB, NGO, BASC, International Wader Study Group and other conservation focussed organisations.


Matt Ridley



Matthew White Ridley, 5th Viscount Ridley is a British author and businessman, best known for his writings on science, the environment, and economics. He has advised the MA board since its formation in 2014 and was elected President of the Moorland Association in April 2020.

With BA and DPhil degrees in zoology from Oxford University, Matt Ridley worked as a journalist and editor for the Economist and has been a columnist for the Times, Telegraph and Wall Street Journal. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Matt has honorary doctorates from Newcastle University, Buckingham University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and University Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala, and is honorary president of the International Centre for Life in Newcastle.

A keen naturalist, he has published scientific papers on the ecology and behaviour of game birds. He lives in Northumberland and owns moorland in County Durham.

He was elected to the House of Lords in February 2013 and has served on the science and technology select committee.

Amanda Anderson



Amanda Anderson is Moorland Association’s first director, appointed in January, 2014, after spending 14 years looking after the organisation’s communications through her own public relations company.

The directorship reflected ballooning interest in moorland and peatlands, through national and international wildlife and habitat designations, food security, climate change mitigation, flooding, water quality and supply.

Amanda helps steer MA’s ambitious aims of regenerating a further 250,000 acres of heather moorland, boosting populations of important birds, animals and plants. She sees communications as a pivotal part of her work, which includes liaising with Government and key national bodies.

With a master’s degree in aquaculture, honours’ degree in zoology, plus a further degree in post-16 education, her 15-year entrepreneurial career involved land-based marketing and communications, working with leading countryside agencies, companies and estates.

The public face of the organisation, Amanda regularly features in the media, promoting Moorland Association and its extensive work.

Nick Downshire



Nick is Treasurer of the Moorland Association having previously served as its Chairman between December 2017 and April 2020 and has sat on its board since its formation in 2014.

He holds a diploma in Advanced Farm Management from the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester and is a qualified chartered accountant with several non-executive roles ranging from an AIM listed pharmaceutical business to acting as a trustee for various landed estates.

In addition he runs an estate in Wensleydale which includes Jervaulx moor. He has recently stepped down as chair of the CLA agriculture and land use committee and still acts as one of their pension trustees; he is also a trustee of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, sitting on their finance committee and he has also chaired its Upland Research Steering Committee for the last two years.


George Winn-Darley

North York Moors


A chartered surveyor and agricultural valuer, George inherited Spaunton Moor in 1986. He worked for a broad range of moor owners and sporting tenants while employed by Ingham & Yorke and Lowther Scott Harden – latterly Clark Scott Harden – and has had his own practice since 1997.

George has served on the MA committee since 1995 and has represented the association on North York Moors National Park Authority groups, including the Primary Land Users Group (PLUG), Fire Liaison Panel and Local Access Forum, which he chaired for six years.

Nationally, he has led MA’s bracken and wildfire interests through the Bracken Control Group and the England & Wales Wildfire Forum. He sat on Defra’s Best Practice Burning Group, attending numerous meetings since 2002. George is also on the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Upland Research Steering Committee and was MA’s vice chairman.

He has also been chairman and vice chairman of CLA’s Yorkshire branch and was elected to the London Policy Committee for five years. George is currently trustee/director of Yorkshire Esk Rivers Trust and Ryedale Folk Museum and a council member of the North York Moors Association.

He says: “I passionately believe that the proper implementation of integrated moorland management is the most successful conservation project in the world and I am dedicated to helping MA get that widely understood and accepted, while continuing to work to resolve ongoing challenges.”


Simon Gurney

Peak District


A self-employed land agent, practising largely in the Peak District, Simon’s work is dominated by moorland management and environmental schemes.

Born on a remote hill farm above Grassington in 1960, he is a dedicated supporter of hills, moors and the beneficial impact of good moorland management.

Following formal education at Cirencester, he spent four years in Wales, gaining RICS and agricultural valuers’ qualifications before returning to Yorkshire in 1988.

He attended his first MA meeting at Bolton Abbey in 1989 and has been to practically every one since. Simon is a life member of the Heather Trust and subscribes to the CLA and GWCT.

A past Secretary of State appointed member of the Peak District National Park, Simon held office on the former Peak Park Moorland Owners and Tenants Association.

He has widespread practical experience of the many moorland issues, including moorland tracks, burning, bracken control, public access, restoration, water quality and predator control.

Adrian Thornton-Berry

Yorkshire Dales


Adrian is based in Wensleydale, on a family estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. He also leases a small moor. As a chartered surveyor, he has worked on predominately upland estates since 1988. Farmoor Services, where Adrian is a partner, is responsible for a number of grouse moors.

His extensive experience includes Moorland Stewardship Agreements, heather seeding, restoration and reclamation from forestry, sustainable tracks, hen harrier licensing and feeding, black grouse regeneration including woodland work, louping ill and tick management. He has had effective dealings with Natural England, English Nature and Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Adrian represents MA on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Management Plan Group, Yorkshire Peat Partnership, North Yorkshire Wildfire Group, which he chairs, and Defra Blanket Bog Project Steering Committee.

He also helps with a sporting agency based in North Yorkshire, specialising in grouse shooting throughout Yorkshire and immediate areas.

He says: “I would like to ensure economically sustainable driven grouse shooting thrives for next 25 years.”


James Scott-Harden

North Pennines East


Involved in the day to day management of Newbiggin Estate on the Durham border, James has experience in all aspects of moorland management with grouse shooting being the key driver. His expertise spans agri-environment schemes, habitat management, bracken control, planning applications and the hosting and running of shoot days.

James has served on the MA committee for well over a decade and represents the association’s interests on the board of the Northern Upland Chain LNP, North Pennines AONB, Peatland Programme Advisory Group and Northumberland Wildfire Group.

Ben Ramsden



Ben has a life-long association with the family estate in Nidderdale, and is almost fanatical about the dale, its heather moorland and its people.

From a business background, Ben works hard to seek opportunities to collaborate with all of the stakeholders in the uplands, be they country sports, the farmers, government bodies, utility companies or research institutes.

Drawn to the Moorland Association by its leading work at the national level, Ben is working to build local, ground-up initiatives demonstrating the benefits, to all, of grouse shooting and the moors, particularly the work undertaken by keepers in maintaining the quality of bio-diversity and rich uplands.

Ben works in collaboration with Yorkshire Water, the local Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Nidderdale AONB and was instrumental in establishing the Nidderdale Moorland Group. He is the local representative for the Moorland Association, joining the board in 2016.

Robert Benson

Regional Officer -North Pennines and Cumbria


Robert was a founder committee member of the MA in 1986 , continuing as a Board member until 2012 when he took over as Chairman. He resigned in 2017 due to ill health. With over 40 years experience of moorland management, he has now taken on the role of MA Regional Officer with responsibility for the N Pennines and Cumbria in particular. He is also on the Board of the Heather Trust, Chairs the North Lakes Red Deer Group and Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group all of which mean close work with Defra, FC, NE, United Utilities and the National Trust.


Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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MOOR OWNERS’ REACTION TO GOVERNMENT MOVE ON HEATHER BURNING The Moorland Association, whose members care for more than one million acres of moorland, issued the following statement in response to the Government’s announcement on new legislation regarding heather burning on blanket bog. Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “Heather burning is a vital tool for moor owners and managers who are heavily […]

RARE HEN HARRIER NOW REPORTED ON HALF OF GROUSE MOORS Hen harriers are being recorded on at least half of grouse moors in England, a new survey has revealed. The hen harrier is one of the most at-risk birds of prey in the UK and a government-led action plan is in operation to help boost the population. A survey conducted by the Moorland Association, which […]