RSPB Scotland has announced that the sixth annual Nature of Scotland Awards, championed by comedian and avid birdwatcher Bill Bailey, are open for entry.
The conservation charity organises the event each year to find and celebrate the most passionate and dedicated people working to protect and enhance Scotland's environment.
RSPB Scotland is seeking entries from individuals, businesses, community groups, schools, volunteers, the farming community and other organisations with a strong commitment to nature and wildlife. The nine categories available for entry in 2017 are:
· RSPB Species Champion Award (sponsored by The Ardmore)
· Marine Conservation Award (sponsored by Vattenfall)
· Corporate Award
· Political Advocate of the Year Award
· Food and Farming Award (sponsored by the James Hutton Institute)
· Innovation Award
· Youth and Education Award
· Community Initiative Award (sponsored by GreenPower)
· Nature Tourism Award (sponsored by Sustrans Scotland)
Since the launch of the awards six years ago, almost 50 projects, individuals and organisations have been recognised with a Nature of Scotland Award with initiatives focusing on, for example, protecting red squirrels, building community gardens and developing renewable energy.
Bill Bailey said: "I love nature and being in the outdoors and Scotland's the perfect place to enjoy both. It's a country of beautiful wild places and abundant wildlife but there are growing challenges which put these under real threat. I have a keen interest in conservation so I'm delighted that the Nature of Scotland Awards will recognise and celebrate nature's heroes. Their dedication and hard work is crucial in the battle to protect and preserve Scotland's precious natural heritage for future generations. Their projects help to make nature more accessible and make a real difference by giving nature a home."
Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: "We are delighted to be launching our sixth Nature of Scotland Awards to discover and celebrate the people working to give nature a home and conserve the country's precious wildlife for future generations. Each year I am inspired and humbled by the amazing ingenuity and vision people invest in to protect our natural heritage. When so many wildlife indicators are turning negative, it is refreshing to highlight those who are making such a huge difference in their communities and for nature. If you or someone you know is doing good work for the environment and for wildlife conservation in Scotland then I strongly encourage you to submit an entry to the Nature of Scotland Awards - let's celebrate your achievements together."
A reception will be held at the Scottish Parliament in September to announce the shortlist for 2017 and the winners will be revealed at the Nature of Scotland Award ceremony in November.
The closing date for entries is Monday 12 June and applications can be submitted at www.rspb.org.uk/natureofscotland
· RSPB Species Champion Award: The nominee will have achieved something extraordinary to conserve a vulnerable or threatened species. They may have implemented a policy, intervened to prevent habitat destruction or helped to create a valuable ecosystem, which has then helped a struggling species.
Marine Conservation Award: This award will recognise an outstanding contribution to the conservation or sustainable management of Scotland's marine resources. If an organisation's partnership working, innovative ideas or new research is helping protect marine species and the habitats they rely on the RSPB wants to would like to hear from them.
Corporate Award: This award will recognise businesses of all sizes that are delivering tangible benefits for nature in Scotland. They may have developed innovative sustainable practices to help the conservation sector or developed a ground-breaking partnership that is making a direct contribution to help save threatened species.
Political Advocate of the Year Award: RSPB Scotland is looking for a politician, campaigner or individual who has made a difference or significant impact on public policy for nature and wildlife. This award will recognise and celebrate those who go above and beyond to ensure Scotland's natural heritage is protected and enhanced for future generations.
Food and Farming Award: The way our food is produced can have negative impacts on the environment but some individuals, businesses and organisations are doing things differently; taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint and helping consumers make good food choices. From wildlife-friendly farmers to cafes and caterers reducing food waste and carefully sourcing ingredients this award celebrates sustainable food champions.
Innovation Award: Awarded to the most innovative project, initiative, practice, or technique that has aided nature conservation. Entries for this award need to stand out as being different - it could be a project that is the first of its kind, or something that has been done before but has been approached differently.
Youth and Education Award: Does your school or youth group make a real difference to the conservation and sustainability of Scotland's wildlife and habitats? If so, tell the RSPB why your group is head and shoulders above the rest.
Community Initiative Award: This award will go to an outstanding community-based initiative that benefits nature. The project should be developed and led by the people it serves, acting as an inspiration to others and offering value to the whole community.
Nature Tourism Award: Open to tour companies, accommodation and transport providers, attractions, wildlife guides and engagement activities across Scotland. This award will go to a nature-based tourism organisation or initiative that stands above its peers for its contribution to nature conservation.