5 Argyll projects in 6 category finals of 2013 Nature of Scotland Awards

Sustainable fishing, wildlife gardens, beavers and bean geese, were just some of the projects announced as finalists in RSPB Scotland’s Nature of Scotland Awards at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday night, 18th June.

Six projects from Argyll made the cut, including:

  • the Scottish Beaver Trial
  • the Ethical Shellfish Company on Mull  – shortlisted in two separate categories;
  • the South Shian Tern Rafts – an initiative to protect breeding common terns in West Scotland – and the retired Barcaldine-based scientist behind it;
  • Tobermory-based Silurian – the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s floating classroom which provides a venue for the practical training of hundreds of volunteers;
  • Snapberry, a partnership project between SNH and Lochgilphead High School which uses photography to connect local school students with the natural landscape, then uses an outdoor town centre projection to link to a much wider audience.

The South Shian Terns Raft

We were curious about the South Shian Terns Raft, with South Shian yet another glorious secret of Argyll’s  on the shores of Loch Creran, west of Benderloch.

Speaking after his nomination to the RSPB Species Champion Award, Dr Clive Craik explains how specially designed mink-proof rafts protect common terns:

‘This seabird conservation project uses four redundant mussel rafts in Loch Creran, just north of Oban in Argyll.

‘Since the project began in 1996, the nesting area has been steadily enlarged and the rafts now hold one of the largest breeding colonies of terns in the British Isles.

‘In 2012 it held 600 pairs of Common Tern and about 500 young were successfully reared. Here the terns are safe from their two most destructive predators – mink and otter. Most of the terns along the mainland coast between Mallaig and Campbeltown now breed on these rafts.’

The Nature of Scotland Awards

With Scotland internationally renowned for its stunning wildlife and wildlife places, these awards aim to recognise national projects and local heroes, working hard to protect and enhance the nation’s natural heritage.

This year the awards programme has unearthed remarkable projects from the length and breadth of the country.

The finalists were announced at an event hosted by Claire Baker MSP and sponsored by The Crown Estate Commission.

Winners across the eight categories will be announced at a special award ceremony at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh on 30th October this year.

Stuart Housden, Chair of the Judging Panel and Director of RSPB Scotland, says: ‘We had high hopes that the 2013 Year of Natural Scotland would allow us to recognise and reward some truly inspirational projects, and we were not disappointed.

‘Once again we were overwhelmed by the volume and calibre of entries. We applaud all our entrants for their commitment and efforts to conserve and protect species and habitats throughout Scotland. My fellow judges and I are very much looking forward to meeting all the shortlisted nominees at the award ceremony later this year’.

Now in its second year, the RSPB-organised awards has already attracted interest and support amongst those in the environmental movement. Among the key sponsors for this year’s event is The Crown Estate Commission. Gareth Baird, Scottish Commissioner, says:  ‘Rewarding the dedication, excellence and innovation of those working and volunteering in conservation is crucial in ensuring Scotland’s outstanding natural assets are protected – now and in the future. The Crown Estate Commission places stewardship at the heart of what we do so we’re extremely proud, in the Year of Natural Scotland, to be supporting these Awards which recognise the unsung heroes in local communities, charities and the public and private sectors.’

Frther information on the Nature of Scotland Awards on online here.

The full shortlist  – check out the competition

We notice that Argyll’s good friends, the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network, is a finalist in three categories, the Marine Award, the RSPB Species Champion Award and the Outstanding Contribution to Nature Conservation Award – with its co-founder, Ian Burret on the shortlist.

We also  notice that in each of two award categories, two of the Argyll projects are up against each other – finalists in the Marine Award are The Ethical Shellfish Company and the Silurian; and in the Innovation Award are the Scottish Beaver Trial and the South Shian Terns Raft.

Marine Award:

  • Guy and Juliet Grieve, The Ethical Shellfish Company, Mull
  • Nick Riddiford, Fair Isle Marine Environment & Tourism Initiative
  • Silurian – The Floating Classroom [Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust]
  • Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN)
  • The Restoration of the Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery

Sustainable Development Award:

  • EAE’s Biodiversity Garden
  • Parklea Community Sports Facility
  • Riverside Nature Park
  • Offshore Renewable Energy Enabling Actions
  • Guy & Juliet Grieve – The Ethical Shellfish Company, Mull.

Politician of the Year Award:

  • Rob Gibson MSP
  • Alison Johnstone MSP
  • Claire Baker MSP

Innovation Award:

  • The South Shian Terns Rafts
  • Scottish Beaver Trial
  • The Gramps Project
  • Cairngorms Wildcat Project

Outstanding Contribution to Nature Conservation:

  • Ian Burrett – co-founding member of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN)
  • Alan Watson Featherstone – founder of the Trees for Life charity, restoring the Caledonian Forest
  • Marco McGinty – played a key role in the Stop Hunterston coal-fired power station campaign
  • Calum Duncan- Marine Conservation Society Scotland Programme Manager

RSPB Species Champion Award:

  • Clive Craik – Saving West of Scotland Common Terns/ The South Shian Tern Rafts
  • John Moir – Farming for Food & Corn Buntings
  • Angus Maciver – Bean geese at Slamannan
  • Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN)
  • Cairngorms Wildcat Project

 Community Award

  • Da Voar Redd Up
  • Snapberry – Collaboration between SNH & Lochgilphead High School
  • The Ecology Centre, Kinghorn
  • Mill Farm Quarry, Bardon Aggregates
  • WDC Shorewatch Programme

 Youth & Education Award

  • Slamannan Primary School Bean Goose Project
  • Larbert High School
  • North Berwick Wildlife Club
  • Magical Woodland Walks
  • The Upper Nurture Class
  • Positive Achievements
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