Dee Catchment Partnership wins prestigious nature award

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.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 8:04 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 8:04 am
Before (inset) and after: the Easter Beltie Restoration project restored the river valley of an artificially straightened stretch of the burn near Torphins

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.

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.”

Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland said: “The standard of entries for this year’s awards was excellent – especially when we consider how challenging the last two years have been for many.

“My fellow judges and I had a difficult job narrowing down our finalists to winners, as we saw some incredible examples of projects and initiatives from across the country – highlighting how much we value nature here in Scotland.

“I’d like to extend my congratulations to all of our winners, and a special congratulations to our Nature Champions of the Decade; Sunnyside Primary.”

Francesca Osowska, chief executive of awards co-sponsor NatureScot, said: “COP 26 has highlighted the urgent need to tackle the twin crises of nature loss and climate change facing us all.

“Against that backdrop, it has been even more heartening to see an incredibly high standard of entries for this year’s awards.

"It’s particularly inspiring to see Sunnyside Primary School crowned our Nature Champions of the Decade, showing the power of the next generation, and reminding us that we all have to be champions for nature.”

Other finalists in the Nature and Climate Action award category were:

Aberdeen City Council - Woodlands, Wetlands & Wildflowers

Restoring rivers, sustaining livelihoods – Tweed’s nature-based climate solutions

River Calder Restoration - Flowing into the Future

Wetland farming for climate adaptation - Seawater Solutions ltd

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.

Established in 2003, the Dee Catchment Partnership represents and supports those with responsibilities for water management in the common aim of restoring habitat and water quality in the river Dee catchment.

The organisation has secured funding for significant restoration work, such as a three-year invasive plants control programme, ten years of outreach and education, and the recent restoration at Easter Beltie.

EU programmes have funded significant programmes of improvement, investing over £10 million in Deeside restoration projects since 2003.

The partners within the group are: Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen Harbour Board, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Dee District Salmon Fishery Board, the James Hutton Institute, NFUS, NatureScot, River Dee Trust, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Forestry, Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate, Scottish Land and Estates, SRuC, Scottish Water, SEPA.

For further information, visit