In the early 2000s, staff at the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute were keen to support communities in developing countries and much of the Institute’s research was relevant to developing countries, or carried out in situ in places such as Mongolia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.  Grant Davidson, a member of staff involved in these projects, initiated a conversation about how the Institute could best support people in developing countries, through the insights from research on topics such as sustainable land management, and through the Trust ensure Bob Ørskov’s work continued to be effective in poverty alleviation

It was Bob’s work in researching and enabling community development, based on setting up small-scale revolving fund livestock projects, that was the starting point for the formation of the Foundation.  The Foundation was formally registered with the Charity Commission in 2004.  It was independent of the Institute, but its administration was supported by staff at the Institute.

In 2006 the Foundation began funding supplementary training for PhD students in developing countries, working on topics relating to sustainable land management and best use of local resources.  Soon after this was widened to include Masters-level students, and this scheme continues to this day.  More information about the students funded each year is available here. The Foundation has also supported community development projects: initially these focused on small-scale livestock provision, but subsequently the remit widened to initiatives such as permaculture and insects for food.  More information about the community projects that we have funded is available here.

The Foundation has evolved over time.  In 2011 the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute merged with the Scottish Crop Research Institute to become the new James Hutton Institute. More information about the James Hutton Institute is available at here. Late in 2014 the Foundation changed its legal status from a charitable trust to a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) to enable applications to funders such as the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund.  Representation on the board of Trustees has also evolved: it still includes members of the Institute, a member of the Ørskov Family, and external experts in international development.  More information about our trustees is available here.

Despite changes over time, the Foundation continues to maintain its focus on supporting research and researchers in developing countries focused on sustainable community-based development.  We continue to benefit from donations from private individuals, groups, charitable trusts and foundations and members of the Ørskov family.  We are a small charity, and are grateful for all donations that allow us to maintain our support of students and communities in developing countries.  If you would like to know more about the Foundation, or discuss any aspect of our work, please contact