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Conservation heroes honoured at Nature of Scotland Awards

Last modified: 21 November 2014

Table set for dinner

Image: William VanEsland

Conservation heroes from across the country were honoured last night at the third annual RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards hosted by naturalist, author and TV presenter Chris Packham.

Red squirrels, river regeneration and renewable energy were just some of the projects to scoop top prizes during the event at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh.

Scotland is renowned worldwide for its beautiful wild places and abundant wildlife and the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, innovation and outstanding achievement in nature conservation.

The ceremony brought together 300 industry professionals, public sector organisations, community groups, politicians, charities and conservationists - all of whom have an interest in safeguarding Scotland’s natural heritage.

After tough deliberations sifting through high quality entries from across the country, the five judges managed to whittle it down to nine winners, each taking home the top prize in their category.

For the first time since the awards started there was a joint winner in one of the eight categories. The Return of Aberdeen’s Red Squirrels and Mollusc of the Glen tied in first place for the RSPB Species Champion Award.

The 2014 judging panel consisted of: BBC presenter Euan McIlwraith, wildlife editor Sophie Stafford, Chief Executive of SNH, Ian Jardine, respected naturalist Sir John Lister-Kaye OBE, and was chaired by Director of RSPB Scotland, Stuart Housden OBE.

The final accolade of the evening, the Lifetime Achievement Award, was given to leading natural history and landscape photographer Laurie Campbell. His award winning photographs regularly feature in magazines, books and exhibitions and his own picture library of over 120,000 images is the most extensive of its kind by any single photographer working in Scotland.

Chris Packham said: “It’s an honour to have been able to congratulate so many worthy winners at this year’s Nature of Scotland Awards. All of the projects were impressive and it’s truly inspirational to see so many people working to conserve Scotland’s precious wealth of wildlife and habitats. Conserving and restoring nature for future generations is so important and all of the effort and enthusiasm that goes into that is exactly what these awards recognise.”

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “Congratulations to all of this year’s winners - it has been a real privilege to recognise and reward some truly inspirational projects. The Nature of Scotland Awards is an opportunity to honour the best and brightest in nature conservation and it’s encouraging to see so many people coming together from across the whole country to take action for wildlife. Scotland can truly say it has worthy champions giving nature a home.”

Full list of winners

Community Initiative Award: The Volunteer River Regeneration Project was set up by a handful of volunteers to clean up the River Carron and make it more accessible. Since 2010 Communities Along the Carron Association has raised over £85,000 to clear the river of scrap metal and litter, as well as helping to fundraise for a new network of paths and bridges which has resulted in the River Carron becoming a key feature of the Central Scotland Green Network for walking, cycling and biodiversity.

Innovation Award: The Native Woodland Survey of Scotland was set up by Forestry Commission Scotland and has provided the first authoritative and consistent digital map of all of Scotland’s native woodlands, offering the most robust and detailed dataset ever compiled to aid conservation of this important resource.

Marine Conservation Award: The community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) is recognised worldwide as one of the UK’s leading community marine conservation organisations. They promote sustainable marine management, deliver education programmes and maintain strong links with universities to ensure independent scientific research.

RSPB Species Champion Award: Joint first place between Mollusc of the Glen and The Return of Aberdeen’s Red Squirrels. Mollusc of the Glen is a voluntary project set up to conserve the globally endangered freshwater pearl mussel. The work focuses on producing research into the species, raising awareness of key threats and engaging stakeholders to protect this fantastic species. The Return of Aberdeen’s Red Squirrels is a project working in partnership with Aberdeen City Council to eradicate grey squirrels from Aberdeen city and surrounding areas to allow red squirrels to re-establish. 

Youth and Education Award: The Green Team is an environmental organisation based in the Lothians which works with vulnerable young people to restore and conserve wild places as an important part of learning about the natural heritage of Scotland. Since it started in 1995, the programme has worked with nearly 4,000 young people to improve the environment for wildlife and people through conservation.

Outstanding Contribution Award: Professor Paul Thompson has developed research to increase our knowledge and understanding of marine top predators, assisting in conservation and management goals in Scotland. His work on bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth was the first study of its kind in Scotland and continues to be one of the longest running studies of dolphins in the world.

Sustainable Development Award: Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has been developing guidance on minimising the impacts on the natural heritage from renewable energy deployment for almost 15 years resulting in the SNH guidance on the development of Renewable Energy. The aim is for the deployment of the right technology in the right place.

Politician of the Year Award: Claudia Beamish MSP has been committed to environmental issues over the course of this Parliament and regularly holds the Scottish Government to account on Scotland’s climate change targets. She has also been heavily involved in a number of conservation causes including working to ensure the upcoming Marine Protected Area network is fit for purpose. Claudia is the LINK species champion for the sea trout.

Highly commended nominees

  • Portlethen Community Woodland in the Community Initiative category
  • Flip Flap Netting Grid in the Innovation category
  • Species Champion  – Scottish Environment LINK in the Innovation category
  • SOS Puffin - John Hunt in the Outstanding Contribution category
  • Lie of the Land in the Youth and Education category

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.

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