The home of the iconic Kelpies statues, a dolphin-watching scheme and projects to save some of the nation’s rarest birds are among those shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Nature of Scotland awards.
The annual awards, now in their fifth year, are run by conservation charity RSPB Scotland and recognise efforts to protect the country’s important wildlife and habitats.
The shortlist, unveiled today, includes a wide range of initiatives spanning the length and breadth of the country.
It acknowledges the impressive diversity of efforts being undertaken by charities, businesses, community trusts, the public sector, partnerships and individuals to protect the natural environment.
Nominees include a project that aims to help save choughs, part of the crow family, a charity tackling environmental and social problems through food and a popular community woodland.
The shortlist also includes a peatland restoration project on Shetland, Falkirk’s Helix Park and a project by farmers, land managers and estates to safeguard the corn bunting.
The 2016 prize-giving includes two new categories – the Food and Farming and Corporate awards – bringing the total up to eight.
The winners will be revealed at a special ceremony in Edinburgh on 24 November.
Television presenter and naturalist Chris Packham will host the event, which will be attended by more than 300 guests from across the nation.
RSPB Scotland director Stuart Housden, who chaired the judging panel, said: “These awards shine a spotlight on the outstanding work taking place across Scotland to conserve our natural heritage.
“The dedication and commitment from everyone who entered, and of course our shortlisted projects, is truly inspiring and demonstrates just how much people care about our wonderful wildlife.
“As ever, the quality and sheer variety of entries made the judging task a challenging one.
“Congratulations to all those shortlisted and we’re looking forward to celebrating all your achievements at our awards ceremony in November.”
Mr Packham added: “I’m really looking forward to hosting RSPB Scotland’s Nature of Scotland awards this year, and celebrating the efforts of those working hard to safeguard Scottish nature.
“As this shortlist shows, there are people, projects and organisations across Scotland dedicated to protecting its wildlife and wild places.”
This year’s awards are supported by ScottishPower, GreenPower, Turcan Connell, The Ardmore and the James Hutton Institute.
SHORTLIST IN FULL
Community Initiative: Mull Eagle Watch; Urban Roots; Concrete Garden: Growing Together; Evanton Community Wood; Mull of Galloway Trust; Nature Observatory at Loch Stiapabhat
Corporate: ScottishPower; Keeping it Green, the Haggis Way; The RBS Community Team Programme; Famous Grouse
Food and Farming: The Real Junk Food Project; Fife and Angus Farmers, Land Mangers and Estates for Corn Bunting; Future Farming Scotland; Rainton Farm; Gorgie City Farm
Innovation: Cairngorms Scenic Photo Posts; Magic Margins; The Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve; The Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations; Shetland Peatland Restoration Project; Atlas of Living Scotland; building a new biodiversity data infrastructure to support biological recording across Scotland
Nature Tourism: Helix Park, Falkirk; Mull Eagle Watch; Keeping it Green, the Haggis Way; Mull of Galloway Trust
Politician of the Year: Claudia Beamish MSP; Richard Lochhead MSP; Sarah Boyack; Mark Ruskell MSP; Michael Russell MSP
RSPB Species Champion: Craig Macadam; Developing Conservation Action for the Chough in Scotland; RSPB Dolphinwatch Project; River Goil Habitat Improvement Project
Youth and Education: Earth Calling – environmental education for the future generation; The Colin Burt Wildlife Reserve; The Green Team; The Vogrie Gang; Leith Community Crops in Pots; Gartocharn Primary School; Kittybrewster Primary School