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Dr Alistair Hamilton

Prior to recently joining CSS, I was Programme Leader for three Environment degrees at SRUC Edinburgh, and my role was focused on course delivery and management. In CSS my main role is Programme Director for the MSc Environmental Protection and Management, a masters course that is joint-delivered by SRUC and the University of Edinburgh. 

Research Interests 

My research interests are in applied ecology, spatial mapping and analysis, and interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving. My applied ecology interests focus on management of extensive systems using grazing (domestic and wild herbivores) and burning as management tools. I pursued these interests in positions at the University of Edinburgh, Forest Research, the RSPB, and Monash University in Australia. I run Muirburn (management fire) training events for SAC Consulting, teaching the theory and practice of fire management. See here.

I am now also working in the area of spatial mapping, modelling and analysis, with a particular interested in the use of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) as tools for management and research purposes. With the cost and availability of UAV and sensors decreasing, there are many areas where such technology can be applied. In the agricultural field this can be in areas such as monitoring and mapping crop growth, possible disease monitoring, and livestock monitoring. We are also exploring the use of UAV for habitat mapping, invasive species monitoring, and wildlife monitoring. As a member of the Carbon Management Centre at SRUC, the use of such technology in addressing climate change emissions is also being explored.

I also seek to maintain an interdisciplinary approach to environmental problem solving, and believe that working across disciplines can yield distinct benefits. For example this can mean taking not just a scientific view on an issue, but also bringing in a socio-economic or behavioural perspective. 


  • Research Skills and Data Analysis
  • GIS and Remote Sensing
  • Ecology: Management and Impacts
  • Carbon Management
  • Action for Biodiversity.

In my previous Education role I also taught on other courses, mainly in the research skills/applied ecology fields.

PhD Students

Simon Gibson-Poole. Filling the sensor gap: developing low cost UAV for research and survey purposes. See here.

Reports and publications

  • Hamilton, A. & Moran, D. (2014). Socio-economic impacts of beavers in the Tay Catchment: current impacts and future predictions. SNH Commissioned Research Report, SRUC.
  • Hamilton, A. (2011).  The future of fire. Scottish Gamekeeper.  49, 17-18.
  • Hamilton, A. (2011).  Moine Mhor NNR – proposals for vegetation management using burning and grazing. Report to Scottish Natural Heritage, SAC Consulting.
  • Hamilton, A., Watson, F., Davies, A.L. & Hanley, N. (2011). Interdisciplinary conversations: the collective model. pp 162-187. In: Nature’s End: History and the Environment. 2nd Ed. (Eds S. Sorlin & P. Warde). Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Edmans, R. & Hamilton, A. (2010). Land use history and biodiversity along the Water of Leith. History Scotland  10(3) 36-41.
  • Hancock, M.H., Summers, R.W., Amphlett, A., Willi, J., Servant, G. & Hamilton, A. (2010). Using cattle for conservation objectives in a Scots pine Pinus sylvestis forest: the results of two trials. European Journal of Forest Research. 129 (3), 299-312.
  • Hanley, N., Davies, A..L., Angelopoulos, K., Hamilton, A., Ross, A., Tinch, D., & Watson, F. (2008). Economic determinants of biodiversity change over a 400-year period in the Scottish uplands. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 1557-1565.
  • Davies, G.M., Hamilton, A., Smith, A. & Legg, C.J. (2008). Using visual obstruction to estimate heathland fuel load and structure. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 17(3), 380-389.
  • Davies, G.M., Gray, A., Hamilton, A. & Legg, C.J. (2008). The future of fire management in the British uplands. International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management, 4, 1-21.
  • Hamilton, A. & Davies, A. (2007). ‘Written in the Hills’: An environmental history project in the Scottish uplands.  History Scotland, 7(3), 25-32.

Dr Alistair Hamilton


Address: Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 01315354066

Fax: 0131 535 4171