Deadline approaches for Scottish conservation awards

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A LEADING conservation charity is urging North-east people to share their inspiring conservation stories.

RSPB Scotland is currently seeking entries for its annual Nature of Scotland Awards, before the nomination process closes on March 15.

The awards aim to recognise excellence and innovation from individuals, projects and organisations who work hard to conserve Scotland’s precious natural heritage, habitats and species.

Last year, former Grampian Police Superintendent Alan Smailes was highly commended for his wildlife crime work in the Outstanding Contribution to Nature award.

As well as accepting entries in the six existing categories, this year the Nature of Scotland Awards will celebrate the work of those bringing the natural world closer to children and young people, as well as those stepping up to make a difference in their local community.

The judging panel will once again be led by RSPB Scotland director Stuart Housden. He will be joined by respected naturalist, conservationist and author Sir John Lister-Kaye, BBC presenter and wildlife expert Euan McIlwraith, Dr Ian Jardine, Scottish Natural Heritage chief executive officer, and Sophie Stafford, editor of the BBC Wildlife Magazine.

Mr Housden said: “Last year we were overwhelmed by the volume and calibre of entries. It is a real privilege to be able to recognise and reward some truly inspirational projects. As 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland we look forward to hearing even more of these motivating stories. My fellow judges and I are also delighted to announce the creation of two new categories which we believe will celebrate the amazing efforts being made to connect more people to the natural environment.”

The Nature of Scotland Awards, organised by RSPB Scotland, is free to enter. Shortlisted entries will be announced during a reception at the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament on June 18, with the final award ceremony scheduled to take place on October 30 at the Sheraton Grand, Edinburgh.