East Sutherland and Edderton ward councillor Ian Ross has announced that he will not be standing in next year’s local authority elections.
Mr Ross, who has served as a councillor for 13 years – initially as an independent but latterly on a Lib Dem ticket – revealed he had been considering leaving the council for some time.
"This is no sudden decision and at the time of the last council elections in May 2007, I was of the view that this was likely to be my final term," he said.
After discussing the issue with his family, he made his final decision in January this year and then informed constituency and council groups.
He has not revealed what he intends to do next, but in a prepared statement, hinted that he may have new challenges in mind.
He said: "By May 2012, I will have been a councillor for some 13 years and it has always been my personal view that there is an appropriate time when one should make way for new blood and perhaps move on to new challenges.
"I must make it clear that this is a personal view and I do not expect or assume other members should subscribe to such an approach regarding the length of time as an elected member."
An Aberdeen University forestry graduate, Mr Ross began his career as a junior manager with the Forestry Commission in Huntly and the Isle of Mull before joining the staff at the Scottish School of Forestry in Inverness as a lecturer.
He left his full-time college post in the mid-1990s and launched himself as a freelance consultant in forestry and forest education.
He was elected to the former Highland Regional Council in 1999 as an Independent candidate representing Golspie and Rogart and successfully fought two subsequent elections.
Under local government re-organisation in 2007, when the new multi-member ward system was introduced, he took on a political affiliation.
He was elected, along with Deirdre Mackay and Jim McGillivray, to represent the new East Sutherland and Edderton ward.
A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Foresters – the industry’s main professional body – he has over the years been involved with a number of forestry organisations and has served on several Forestry Commission groups and advisory panels.
In 2007 he received an OBE in the New Year Honours List for services to forestry.
His wife Lindsey is a GP and the couple have two children, Calum (18) and Kirsten (15). The family home is at West Drummuie, Golspie.
Mr Ross has enjoyed a prominent local government career. He is currently the chair of both the Planning, Environment and Development Committee and the Planning Review Body on Highland Council.
He is also the vice-convener of the Northern Joint Police Board and a past chair of the council’s Sustainable Development Select Committee. He was also the chair of the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee on the former Sutherland Area Committee.
He said that it had been a great privilege to represent during his first two terms the people of Golspie and Rogart and, in his last term, the wider East Sutherland area.
He added: "I would like to put on record my appreciation of the support and help I have received over the years from council officers and officials from other organisations and the wider public.
"If I have achieved anything as a councillor, it has been through working effectively in partnership with a range of individuals and organisations.
"I would also like to give a strong reassurance to all that I will remain fully committed to my role as councillor until I step down in May 2012."