Environmental work honoured in Nature of Scotland Awards

Work to save giant skates, efforts to bring beavers back to Scotland, river restoration and a whale-spotting trail are among a host of initiatives honoured at the country’s most prestigious annual environmental awards ceremony.

The Hebridean Whale Trail, which brings together more than 30 hotspots for viewing iconic marine creatures, won the Coasts and Waters category at the Nature of Scotland Awards

The Nature of Scotland Awards, now in their ninth year, are led by conservation charity RSPB Scotland and co-sponsored by national agency NatureScot.

This year’s winners were announced during a virtual ceremony staged in front of an online audience – a Covid-conscious departure from the customary black-tie event.

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They include Dr Mark Young, emeritus senior lecturer in ecology at the University of Aberdeen, who was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his considerable contribution to nature conservation – particularly in relation to insects and moths.

Dr Jane Dodd has been recognised with the RESPB's Species Champion Award for more than a decade's work to help save the declining flapper skate

Dr Róisín Campbell-Palmer received the Conservation Science Award for long-term work that has helped see beavers living wild in Scotland after a 400-year absence.

The Hebridean Whale Trail, which brings together more than 30 hotspots for viewing iconic marine creatures, lifted the Coasts and Waters Award.

The Community Initiative Award went to Abriachan: A Community’s Woodland, run by locals in the hills above Loch Ness.

Dr Jane Dodd scooped the RSPB Species Champion Award for more than a decade’s work aimed at preserving the flapper skate, which has suffered massive declines and localised extinctions.

The innovation Award was won by the project Conserving genetic diversity – helping nature to help itself, which developed a world-first standardised risk assessment to identify genetic problems in wild species and to monitor and guide management responses

Two new categories were included this year – the Forest and Woodland Award, won by the Tweed Forum for planting more than one million native broad-leaved trees, and the Nature and Climate Action Award, presented to Aberdeen City Council for efforts to battle climate change and enhance biodiversity.

Forest College, a national centre that supports people of all ages in outdoor learning, came out top in the Youth and Education category

The NatureScot Business Award went to Biosphere – Good for Business, a Unesco-recognised network of local businesses working sustainably to support local communities and the environment in Galloway and Southern Ayrshire.

The Forest and Woodland Award went to the tree-planting project Hitting the Spot – Targeted Trees on Tweed and the Innovation Award to Conserving genetic diversity – helping nature to help itself.

Anne McCall, director of RSPB Scotland and chair of the judging panel, said: “With everything that has happened this year, the Nature of Scotland Awards have helped demonstrate just how important it is for us to maintain and nurture our connection with the natural world.

“I am delighted we have this opportunity to celebrate those people across Scotland who care for our environment for our well-being, our businesses and our communities.

“Our winners should be immensely proud of their achievements and it was fabulous to be able to celebrate with so many people this year.”

NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska said: “The Nature of Scotland Awards are a great reminder of how nature can bring communities together, and the amazing work that can be achieved by passionate people.

“Last night was a wonderful celebration of conservation across Scotland, and it was brilliant to have such a variety of projects, all at different scales and all doing amazing work across the country.

“Congratulations to all the finalists and particularly to the winners, and thank you for everything you are doing for Scotland’s nature.”

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