Staff at RSPB Scotland's Abernethy National Nature Reserve have expressed delight that the reserve has been voted the overall winner for Nature Reserve of the Year in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards Competition, 2017.
The reserve, which stretches from the woods north of Nethybridge to the summit of Ben Macdui is home to around 5,000 species of wildlife including ospreys, capercaillies, eagles and wildcats not to mention more humble, but very special species, such as rare tooth fungi and Blytt's rock moss.
Reserve manager Jeremy Roberts said he was delighted by the public response. "We have been aware that Abernethy was in the running and I know that a lot of local folk have taken the time to vote. But we have been overwhelmed by the response. The reserve means so much to so many people. We have had people sending us photos dating from over 50 years ago. We are incredibly proud that Abernethy has won this recognition."
Mr Roberts said that RSPB Scotland would not be resting on its laurels.
"We are looking forward to the reopening of the Loch Garten Osprey Centre on 1 April. The Centre has allowed generations of visitors and local people to learn more about the amazing life story of these wonderful birds which first returned to Abernethy more than 50 years ago. Our commitment is to ensure that current and future generations also gain that experience. We are developing the offer for families and will have more activities than ever before.
"The Osprey Centre sits within one of Scotland's finest stands of ancient Caledonian pine forest. We have a 200 year vision to expand the forest to its natural limit, almost doubling its size. This is crucial if we are to ensure the survival of the many species that are dependent on this magnificent forest. Key to this success is our partnership with neighbours under the Cairngorms Connect initiative which shares similar conservation objectives across 60,000ha of the Cairngorms National Park."
Mr Roberts added, "The award will be on display in the Osprey Centre over the coming season. We hope local residents will take the time to come and see it... and us... and the ospreys!"