The Nature of Scotland Awards have been with us for four years now. Organised by RSPB Scotland, they acknowledge outstanding contributions to Scotland’s natural heritage and they are a fitting accolade for work carried out by dedicated individuals and dynamic organisations.
Scotland is well known for its wonderful landscapes and impressive wildlife, but conserving our precious environment takes hard work from all sorts of people. The RSPB Awards are an ideal way to celebrate that effort and share news of great projects, whilst encouraging others to get involved in ensuring a healthy future for our natural heritage.
We were delighted to see that Tom Prescott, Senior Conservation Officer at Butterfly Conservation Scotland won the RSPB Species Champion award for his work with the Marsh Fritillary butterfly.
This rare butterfly’s fortunes are now much rosier, with more land being managed for it through agri-environment schemes.
Another popular winner was the Cairngorms National Park‘s peatland restoration project which picked up the Innovation Award. Peatlands are vital. In the UK they store over 3 billion tonnes of carbon – twenty times that found in all of Britain’s forests – with more than half found in Scotland. They provide homes to a variety of specialist plants and animals, can reduce flood events and provide clean drinking water.
SNH is administering the Peatland Action project funding, which aims to store and sequester carbon by restoring peatland across Scotland. The 2014 funding for projects was provided by the Scottish Government from its Green Stimulus Package, which restored 5,850ha of degraded peat. Peatland Action is now aiming to restore a further 3,000 hectares of peatland habitats by March 2016.
The Marine Conservation Award went to KIMO UK for Fishing for Litter. Marine litter kills thousands of seabirds, fish and mammals every year, is an eyesore on our beaches and costs the fishing industry money. Fishermen and harbour staff volunteer their time to collect litter caught in fishing nets and Fishing for Litter Scotland helps by providing collection bags and disposing of the litter – both simple and effective.
The Sustainable Development award was given for work at Blacklaw and Whitelee windfarm, for developing new techniques to help with large-scale peatland restoration work, especially in areas previously dominated by forestry.
Our new visitor centre on the Isle of May NNR won the Nature Tourism Award this year (as well as three awards at the Dundee Institute of Architects Awards the same week).
We are proud to have been involved with the Nature of Scotland awards for a number of years now and we sponsor the Youth and Education Award. This year Belhaven Hill High School were recognized for making their local environment a wildlife haven through a range of conservation activities that were embedded into the academic curriculum. Highly commended in this category were Hillhead High School which has been putting 185 children forward each year for John Muir Awards.
There are too many categories and nominees to list in one short blog (30 finalists across eight categories), but the RSPB website lists all of those who were recognised on the night.
Images of Nature of Scotland award ceremony courtesy of Simon Williams Photography. Clearing Creels, (C) David Donnan/SNH. Other images (C) SNH/Lorne Gill.