19 November 2021, UK: The Dee Catchment Partnership, a collective of organisations tasked with looking after the river Dee catchment in north east Scotland, has won the Nature and Climate Action award at the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards. The highest accolade for nature conservation in the country, the awards recognise excellence, innovation and outstanding achievements in Scottish nature conservation. The 10th annual ceremony was held virtually this year, hosted by BBC Landward’s Arlene Stuart.
The Partnership’s winning entry, the Easter Beltie Restoration project, restored the river valley of an artificially straightened stretch of the burn near Torphins, bringing multiple benefits for biodiversity and climate resilience.
Partnership Manager, Dr Susan Cooksley, led the three-month long restoration project with River Operations Manager for the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board, Edwin Third. She said: “We are over the moon to have won this fantastic award, exactly one year after the Easter Beltie restoration was completed. Our partnership exists to deliver collaborative projects that conserve the unique biodiversity and natural beauty of Deeside, and build climate resilience across the catchment. This restoration has done exactly that – creating a new area of wild beauty and habitat for a rich diversity of wildlife, and slowing the flow of water which will help to ease flooding issues downstream.”
Sponsored by RSPB in association with NatureScot and judged by an esteemed panel of experts including BBC presenter, Dougie Vipond, the awards celebrate inspiring people, projects, groups and organisations working tirelessly for the country’s natural heritage. He said: “The Nature and Climate Action Award recognises projects that tackle the twinned crises of biodiversity loss and climate change with nature-based solutions. All the finalists were of an incredibly high standard, but the Dee Catchment Partnership was the best example of a project that has taken clear, definitive steps to protect nature and adapt to climate change, and I’d like to congratulate them on this fantastic achievement.”
The Easter Beltie Restoration project was managed by the Dee Catchment Partnership working with the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board and the James Hutton Institute. Delivery partners were cbec eco-engineering UK Ltd, Edinburgh Napier University, Mclntosh Plant Hire, NatureScot, the River Dee Trust, the River Restoration Centre, Scotland the Big Picture, and the Woodland Trust. The project was funded by Aberdeenshire Council, Cairngorms National Park Authority, the NatureScot Biodiversity Challenge Fund, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and Scottish Forestry.
During the online ceremony, the James Hutton Institute-sponsored Food and Farming award went to Kinclune Organic Nature Farm. Kinclune is an 1100 acre sustainable organic mixed farm in Angus. They breed organic pure-bred Aberdeen Angus and Limousin cross cattle and maintain a small organic sheep herd. They also breed, produce and show native Highland ponies.
The Nature of Scotland awards celebrate the inspirational people, projects, groups and organisations working hard to protect Scotland’s precious natural heritage. The shortlist for the 2021 awards is a snapshot of the breadth of businesses, charities, the public sector and individuals working towards conserving the country’s unique wildlife and natural environment.