A red squirrel sitting on a branch eating a nut

Nature Champions of the Decade

Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta in flower at The Lodge RSPB Reserve

The Nature of Scotland Awards recognises excellence and innovation in nature conservation. All our previous winners have done exceptional work to support Scotland’s species and habitats, the cumulative efforts they have made for nature have been tremendous. To mark our 10th anniversary the judging panel selected 10 outstanding former winning projects from across Scotland.


Here's more about our whole shortlist. The winner was selected by a public vote – Sunnyside Primary won our Nature Champions of the Decade Award! Congratulations to everyone involved.

Cairngorms Wildcat Project

This multi-partner initiative blazed a trail from 2009 to 2012. Trialling new methods, massively raised the profile of the plight of the ‘Highland Tiger’; ramped up neutering of domestic cats across the national park; positively engaged gamekeepers in the conservation of a native predator; and deepened scientific knowledge of wildcats through innovative research and monitoring. It laid strong foundations upon which subsequent conservation action, including the current, cutting-edge initiative, Saving Wildcats, has been built.

Find out more here.

Championing the Return of Beavers to Scotland 

The pioneering Scottish Beavers partnership, led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, carried out the first successful reintroduction of a mammal in the UK.  

This work in Argyll’s Knapdale Forest created an exhaustive evidence-base demonstrating the benefits of reintroducing beavers to Scotland, paved the way for the recognition of beavers as a protected native species, and inspired further reintroductions in England and Wales. 

Find out more here.

COAST - Community of Arran Seabed Trust 

COAST has created a dynamic community-based path to restoring marine biodiversity resulting in:

  • The UK’s first community-led No Take Zone.
  • The 280 km2 South Arran Marine Protected Area (MPA).
  • A dramatic recovery (>80% increase) of biodiversity in the seas around Arran.
  • The opening of the UK’s first community-based MPA Discovery Centre.
  • Arran and Scotland being regarded as international leaders in community-led marine conservation.

Find out more here.

DEEP - Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project 

The Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP) is a collaboration between The Glenmorangie Company, Heriot-Watt’s Centre of Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology, and The Marine Conservation Society.

DEEP aims to restore a reef of 200,000 native oysters, last seen in the Dornoch Firth over 100 years ago, by 2023 to demonstrate enhanced biodiversity, water quality and the capture of carbon.

Earlier this year we hit our target of bringing 20,000 oysters back to the Firth.

Find out more here and here.

Lynbreck Croft 

Lynbreck Croft is a leading regenerative farming and education unit where food is produced for the local community by working in harmony with nature. The goal is to use our team of animals to increase biodiversity alongside the planting of nearly 30,000 native trees. Our business runs as a carbon sink where we focus on the health of the soil and sharing a positive, educational message on farming with nature.

Find out more here.

Mull Eagle Watch 

Our unique partnership project has celebrated white-tailed eagles since we began protecting 6 vulnerable nests in 2000. Now at 22 pairs we work with community groups and showcase this wonderful bird to the world with income going back to island-wide initiatives. We’ve achieved the highest green and tourism grades, work with local schools and welcome thousands of visitors. Winning this award in our 21st year would mean so much. Please vote!

Find out more here.

Native Woodland Survey of Scotland

The Native Woodland Survey of Scotland, the first authoritative survey of its kind, identified and mapped the location, extent, type and condition of all of Scotland’s native woodlands. The reliable digital map is being used extensively by landowners and the Scottish Government to protect, enhance and expand our existing native woodlands, and will be fundamental to help safeguard the future of our natural heritage and the species that depend on it.

Find out more here and here.


Now in its 33rd year, Seasearch has taken its training online, with more than ever trained in Scotland over the last 18 months. Seasearch is a proven UK and Ireland-wide project, in which citizen scientist divers, snorkelers and beach walkers gather systematic observations on marine habitats and species for a national database. These records support the identification of sites worthy of protection, including eight inshore Marine Protected Areas since 2014.

Find out more here.

Sunnyside Primary School

Sunnyside Primary – how small ripples bring about tides of change’

Small ripples can bring about tides of change…but only if you’re bold enough to rock the boat and create a few waves, to begin with.  The young people of Sunnyside School of Conservation have shown they’re brave enough to set sail, creating and spreading inspiring campaigns such as #DrainCampaign and #DareToSoar; challenging Government policy and bringing about change across many biomes. Their work for nature is truly ‘summit to sea’.

Find out more here.

TCV Natural Talent programme – closing the ecological skills gap 

TCV’s Natural Talent programme (2006-2019) was designed to meet an ecological skills gap across Scotland and the UK through supporting a new movement of young ecologists to help conserve and promote underrepresented species and habitats. This amazing and forward-thinking programme has trained 65 trainee ecologists in partnership with 25 environmental partners and an incredible 98% have moved into employment/further education creating a new wave of botanists, entomologists, lichenologists, lepidopterists and mycologists.

Find out more here.