Ian’s early career was spent in land resource management. He worked on soil survey and land classification, soil conservation and vegetation survey in Africa and Asia.
He is familiar with UK land, vegetation and landscape classification systems and has used them all. As a consultant he has conducted a study for Defra on the suitability of UK agricultural land classification systems for redefining Less Favoured Areas and, in association with SAC, a study for a land classification system for the Isle of Man, and led its subsequent implementation. As the UK co-ordinator for the mapping of Areas Facing Natural Constraints, (that will replace LFAs) he works closely with national soils, climate and GI specialists testing the EC land classification system developed for this purpose and which he helped design.
As an uplands specialist he is familiar with upland farming, moorland management systems and the agricultural and environmental management of upland common land. He was agricultural adviser to Defra for the development of the Commons Bill which led to the 2006 Commons Act. He was also technical adviser for the 2006-07 review of the Heather and Grass burning regulations and code. He was project manager for the Farmer Network's Yorkshire Dales Hill Farm Apprentice Scheme which came to completion in 2013 which helped keep him in touch with the practical realities of upland farming. He is a member of the Heather Trust's board of management.