Cairngorms Connect Wins at RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards

The Cairngorms Connect Partnership has won the Landscape Restoration Award at RSPB Scotland’s Nature of Scotland Awards 2023.

The ecological restoration project – which is the largest in the UK – is committed to a 200-year vision to restore peatlands, floodplains, and forests across 600 sq. km of the Cairngorms National Park delivering benefits for people, climate, and nature.

The Cairngorms Connect partners (Wildland Limited, RSPB Scotland, NatureScot, and Forestry and Land Scotland) are already seeing positive signs of the expansion of native woodland thanks to collaborative deer management, and over 1000ha of peatlands have been restored in the past five years. Local communities and businesses are involved with the work through employment, volunteering, events and skills development opportunities.

Heavy plant resurfacing areas of exposed peat with vegetation_Glenfeshie_Wildland Scotland_Credit_STBPHeavy plant resurfacing areas of exposed peat with vegetation on Wildland Limited's Glenfeshie Estate. Credit:

Alex Macleod, Forestry and Land Scotland Regional Manager and Cairngorms Connect Board member said: “On behalf of the Partnership, we are honoured that Cairngorms Connect has been awarded the Nature Of Scotland Landscape Restoration Award. This is testament to the hard work of a huge number of committed people, working together to restore a landscape. It was inspiring to be recognised alongside such so many prestigious people and organisations, and we remain passionately committed to delivering nature restoration at scale for the 200-year timespan of this work.”

Partnership staff and volunteers travelled down to Edinburgh for the prestigious awards ceremony, held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on the 22 November to enjoy a night of celebration. The event was hosted by zoologist, TV presenter and RSPB Ambassador Megan McCubbin, and TV presenter and nature enthusiast JJ Chalmers.

The awards ceremony, now in its 12th year and co-sponsored by NatureScot, celebrated finalists across 10 categories. Winners from nine of the categories were chosen by an esteemed judging panel, made up of Susan Davies, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre Seabird, Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive at NatureScot, Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland and Sara Thiam, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council of Development and Industry.

The winner of the tenth category, the Community Initiative Award, was decided by public vote. Taking home the title was “50 years of The Bailies of Bennachie”; a voluntary conservation society which protects and encourages visitors to the Bennacie hill in Aberdeenshire.

Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland said: “All our winners this year should be incredibly proud of what they have achieved.

“Another year of the Nature of Scotland Awards has brought a growing group of hardworking, motivated and passionate people into the conservation spotlight, and I’d like to wish them all a huge congratulations.

“The annual awards night is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our successes here in Scotland, but the twelve months in between is where the real magic happens. Scotland’s nature and climate is in a better position because of all your amazing efforts, thank you.”

Professor Colin Galbraith, Chair of awards co-sponsor NatureScot, said: “Now more than ever, Scotland’s nature needs champions with the ambitious ideas these award winners demonstrate.

“All of the individuals, communities, businesses and organisations nominated have inspired us this year, with their vital work to stop biodiversity loss and help us to move towards a nature-rich, net-zero future. Congratulations everyone.”

Volunteers help with non-native confider removal Forestry and Land Scotland Glenmore_Credit_STBPVolunteers help with non-native confider removal on Forestry and Land Scotland's Glenmore Forest Park. Credit:

Feature Image: Cairngorms Connect Partnership staff and volunteers at the Nature of Scotland Awards. Credit: Mike Wilkinson


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