RSPB Scotland seeks conservation champions


RSPB Scotland has announced that the Scottish Natural Heritage-sponsored Nature of Scotland Awards is now open for entries. The prestigious competition celebrate people, projects and organisations involved with conservation. The 2019 edition will be hosted by Scottish filmmaker and presenter Gordon Buchanan, who said: "I'm incredibly lucky to have opportunities to film wildlife all across the world but, for me, filming at home in Scotland stands out among the rest. 

"From the breath-taking scenery to iconic species like Western Osprey, otters and my favourite, Golden Eagle, Scotland's nature is truly something special. I'm delighted to be hosting the Nature of Scotland Awards 2019 which will recognise and celebrate the people working tirelessly to protect our natural heritage. 

"With our wildlife and unique habitats under threat, I'm looking forward to hearing more about their dedication and commitment to nature conservation and how it’s helping to ensure that our landscapes and wildlife are protected for future generations."

Western Capercaillie is an emblematic Scottish species, and the focus of heavy conservation work down the years (Marc Fasol).

Gordan Buchanan will host alongside BBC TV and Radio presenter Euan McIlwraith, with the awards presented on 4 December at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh. RSPB Scotland launched the Nature of Scotland Awards in 2011 and they've taken place annually ever since. In those eight years, some 50 entrants have received awards. This year there are nine categories, including two new ones: Conservation Science Award and Coasts and Waters Award.

Last year's winners included Cairngorms Nature Young Ambassador Xander Johnston and Countryside Ranger Kathleen McMillan, who were recognised in celebration of the Year of Young People 2018. Other winners included a gardening for wellbeing project and a scheme connecting young people with nature at the ancient woodlands at Rossie. This year's awards are open for entries until Tuesday 4 June. The shortlist will be revealed at a Scottish Parliament reception sponsored by The Botanist in September.

Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland said: "It is heartening to hear how people, projects and organisations across Scotland are working determinedly to save nature from the many threats it faces. These awards are a celebration of amazing achievements. Help us recognise our conservation champions by submitting an application or nomination today."

Scottish Natural Heritage is the awards co-sponsor this year. Francesca Osowska, the Chief Executive, will sit on the panel of judges alongside Anne McCall, who will chair the judging panel, Euan McIlwraith, Susan Davis, CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre, and a representative from the Scottish Council for Development and Industry. Osowska said: "SNH is delighted to again co-sponsor the Nature of Scotland Awards, an event which is all about celebrating the unsung heroes working hard right across Scotland to protect our precious natural environment.

"This year we are also pleased to be sponsoring the business award in recognition of the crucial role that businesses play in safeguarding our natural capital for the future. I’m looking forward to discovering this year’s outstanding nature champions and I have no doubt we will all be inspired by all that they are doing helping more people enjoy and benefit from nature."