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RSPB Awards honour heroes of nature conservation

Last modified: 02 March 2012

Nature of Scotland Awards logo

Image: The RSPB

Pioneers in Scottish nature conservation were last night honoured at the first annual RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards.

Held at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and hosted by comedian and presenter Fred MacAulay, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, innovation and outstanding achievement in nature conservation.

The event brought together a range of businesses, public sector organisations, community groups, politicians and individuals, all of whom have an interest in safeguarding and conserving Scotland’s greatest asset - its natural heritage.

After tough deliberations sifting through nearly 90 high quality entries, the judges managed to narrow it down to six winners, each taking home the top prize in six specific categories.

First of the night was the Marine Award won by the Dolphin Space Programme, an innovative wildlife project offering sustainable and educational dolphin watching opportunities in the Moray Firth.

There was local success for a celebrated Lochwinnoch project in the Sustainable Development Category. The Local Energy Action Plan (LEAP) aims to reduce domestic energy consumption in the 1,200 households of Lochwinnoch, and subsequently in the 3,000 households in the three nearby villages, and deliver a positive impact on climate change by saving energy and raising awareness of energy conservation measures.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead MSP picked up the first prize for Politician of the Year. His efforts to make the Common Fisheries Policy more sustainable, and his support for Scotland’s first land use strategy caught the eye of the judges.

It was the unique partnership between conservation and the health service that impressed the judges when it came to the winner of the Innovation Award.

Forestry Commission Scotland’s Branching Out provides opportunities for people attending mental health services to take part in conservation and greenspace activities on referral. The beneficial health rewards from involving people in green space and local action for wildlife won over judges.

Renowned mycologist Professor Roy Watling MBE took home the Outstanding Contribution to Nature Award for a lifetime of inspiring and educating the public, conservation organisations and policy makers about the importance of fungi. Roy has an international scientific reputation yet he retains the ability to communicate with people from all walks of life on his passion for fungi .

Finally, Stirlingshire farmer Alastair Robb was named Species Champion for the management work he has undertaken on his Townhead farm to help breeding lapwings, a rapidly declining bird across the UK. He has increased lapwings on his farm by employing innovative ideas that enable productive farming and conservation to go hand in hand.

A special honour, Lifetime Achievement Award, went to 81 year old Rosalie ‘Roley’ Walton for her contribution to outdoor learning and longstanding dedication to conservation near her home in Livingston.

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: 'Congratulations to the very worthy winners. They all represent the very best in their field.  We are pleased to honour them at this innovative event that celebrates those stepping up for nature conservation in Scotland. 

'We hope the standard set today will encourage  many others across the whole Country to follow suit. Nature cannot thrive in the future by just applying rules and regulation, it is when people enthusiastically step up and go the extra mile that something special can happen.'

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