CONSERVATION SUCCESS OF THE YEAR
BRITISH DIVERS MARINE LIFE RESCUE (BDMLR)
A volunteer organisation dedicated to the rescue of marine animals in distress around the UK. Led by a group of experts trained in basic marine-mammal rescue, the BDMLR acts as an emergency service for stranded seals, beached whales and dolphins. Judge Miranda Krestovnikoff says: “This network of people can be contacted in any area and will race to the beach to help save a marine mammal. They do amazing work and are a great bunch of volunteers.”
ISLES OF SCILLY SEABIRD RECOVERY PROJECT
This five-year seabird recovery project, which ended in 2016, aimed to remove the rats that were decimating the birds’ nests in St Agnes and Gugh. The results? Manx shearwaters rose from 23 to 59 breeding pairs; and storm petrels bred successfully for the first time in living memory.
Judge Mark Rowe says: “It’s a tangible success – for more than 100 years, no Manx shearwater chicks had survived on the Isles of Scilly, but last year, 43 ‘stargazing’ chicks were recorded outside burrows at night.”
GREAT BRITISH BEACH CLEAN
Every year, volunteers across Britain come together to clean our coasts of the litter that threatens marine life and our own health. In September 2017, almost 7,000 people removed 255,209 pieces of litter from 339 beaches, recording every item. This year, many of the plastics found will be recycled.
Judge John Craven says: “This fantastic project is an annual check on how bad we’re being at disposing of plastic and other waste. Recycling the plastic found on the beaches is a new aspect of the project – they’re not just cleaning up the beaches, they’re turning it into something useful, which hopefully won’t end up back on the beaches again.”
THE HIGHWAY ENGLAND MITIGATION PROJECT
Hardly the catchiest of titles, but a deserving nominee nonetheless. The biggest road project currently in construction in the UK is the A14 upgrade between Cambridge and Huntingdon, which will extend for 34km through farmland, taking out mature trees and hedgerows. Highway England’s ecology team have designed a scheme to ensure the area is more biodiverse than before the works, including replanting every tree felled with two more, creating 271 hectares of connected habitat for wildlife and relocating affected species such as water voles.
Judge Sheena Harvey says: “It’s a project that should lead the way in how to mitigate that damage done by infrastructure works – this is an example that needs to be out there for people to follow.”
THE FLIGHT OF THE SWANS, WWT
In order to raise awareness of the plight of the Bewick swan, Sacha Dench and the expedition team followed the bird’s entire migratory route by paramotor – a 7,000 mile journey from its Arctic breeding grounds back to Britain. By joining the Bewick’s on their migration, the team gathered firsthand evidence and information that is contributing to life-saving conservation action along the Bewick’s migratory flyway. Judge Miranda Krestovnikoff says: “This has really brought the plight of the Bewick to the public’s attention. In every country Sacha travelled through, people are more engaged with the species and invested in its recovery.”