Mull Ea­gle Watch wins top tourism award

The Oban Times - - News -

THE In­no­va­tion in Tourism Award at the High­lands and Is­lands Tourism Awards (HITA) 2016 has been awarded to the Mull Ea­gle Watch pro­ject.

En­tered by the Mull and Iona Com­mu­nity Trust on be­half of the Mull Ea­gle Watch part­ner­ship, the pro­ject had to com­pete against stiff com­pe­ti­tion in a year which at­tracted more nominations than ever be­fore.

The pro­ject was hosted for the first time by Mull’s two com­mu­nity- owned wood­lands.

One site was at West Ardhu owned by NW Mull Com­mu­nity Wood­lands Ltd and pur­chased in 2010, and the other at Tiro­ran Com­mu­nity For­est, owned by SW Mull and Iona Devel­op­ment pur­chased in 2015 from Forestry Com­mis­sion Scot­land.

The har­vest­ing in both forests is man­aged on their be­half by Til­hill Forestry, which worked dili­gently with RSPB and the com­mu­nity to en­sure the nest­ing white-tailed eagles were able to nest suc­cess­fully as forestry op­er­a­tions con­tin­ued.

The in­volve­ment of lo­cal vol­un­teers, NGOs, govern­ment agen­cies (in­clud­ing the VisitS­cot­land of­fice in Craignure, which was con­tracted to run the Mull Ea­gle Watch book­ing ser­vice) all con­trib­uted to the suc­cess of the two pub­lic view­ing sites.

The judged said: ‘The suc­cess of Mull Ea­gle Watch in­volves many part­ners to cre­ate one of the UK’s most high-pro­file wildlife at­trac­tions, fea­tur­ing Mull’s ma­jes­tic white-tailed eagles. It is the mix of in­volve­ment with or­gan­i­sa­tions, com­mu­ni­ties – hu­man and dig­i­tal – that im­pressed the judges and rais­ing money for lo­cal causes.

‘Con­grat­u­la­tions to the Mull and Iona Com­mu­nity Trust for the Mull Ea­gle Watch. For cre­at­ing and sus­tain­ing one of the United King­dom’s most high-pro­file wildlife at­trac­tions. Work­ing across the com­mu­nity with pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor groups, en­gag­ing with schools, res­i­dents, so­cial me­dia, Mull Ea­gle Watch goes from strength to strength – cre­at­ing a des­ti­na­tion in its own right.’

Another Mull busi­ness, Isle of Mull Cot­tages, was also short­listed in the In­no­va­tion in Tourism cat­e­gory and the ‘friendli­est bar/pub cat­e­gory was won by Mac­gochans in Tober­mory.

As a regional win­ner, Mull Ea­gle Watch will now go for­ward to the Scot­tish This­tle Award fi­nals in Ed­in­burgh in March 2017. It is also short­listed in two cat­e­gories (Na­ture Tourism and Com­mu­nity Ini­tia­tive) in the Na­ture of Scot­land Awards which will be an­nounced on Novem­ber 24.

The Mull Ea­gle Watch part­ner­ship com­prises MICT, SNH, FCS, Po­lice Scot­land and RSPB and has been show­ing peo­ple eagles since 2000. It re­tained its five-star VistS­cot­land grad­ing as an ‘ex­cep­tional’ wildlife ex­pe­ri­ence and holds the gold award un­der the Green Tourism Busi­ness Scheme.

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