Since 2013, Scottish Environment LINK has been encouraging Members of the Scottish Parliament to champion threatened and iconic species and habitats through its Nature Champions initiative (formerly Species Champions).
Through the initiative, MSPs agree to champion a threatened or iconic species or habitat for the duration of that Parliamentary session. MSP Nature Champions are then partnered with Scottish Environment LINK Members who are leading on the conservation of that species or habitat. The partnering LINK Member organisations support Nature Champions to learn more about their habitat or species, including the key issues affecting them, in order to raise awareness and promote action to restore and safeguard Scotland’s environment.
The Scottish Environment LINK ‘MSP Nature Champion of the Year’ award celebrates an MSP who has made a notable contribution over the year to the protection and recovery of their species or habitat alongside their partnering LINK Member. This award is given to an MSP Nature Champion on the basis of their personal investment in their species or habitat, their public awareness-raising efforts and their broader advocacy impact.
Scottish Environment LINK decided to jointly award the MSP Nature Champion of the Year title to two MSPs for their support over 2022: Jenni Minto MSP and Beatrice Wishart MSP.
Jenni Minto is the MSP Nature Champion for Scotland’s Rainforest, through which she is working alongside both Woodland Trust Scotland and Plantlife Scotland. Jenni’s support for this precious habitat has been vital to the campaign to restore Scotland’s rainforest, led by Plantlife Scotland, Woodland Trust Scotland and other members of the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest. Jenni has joined Woodland Trust and Plantlife on many visits to Scotland’s rainforest, and she has also championed rainforest ecosystems in Parliament, most recently within a Parliamentary debate on the role of trees in meeting Net Zero targets. Outside of Parliament, Jenni has spoken publicly on the need to protect rainforest ecosystems, including in the spring of this year at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, where she launched ‘The Ghost Rainforest’, a moving film that follows a group of indigenous activists from the Amazon as they make a journey from COP26 in Glasgow to visit areas of Scotland’s rainforest and perform a blessing.
Beatrice Wishart is the MSP Nature Champion for Orca, working with Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Having completed Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s Shorewatch training programme, Beatrice is now a citizen science volunteer trained to carry out regular ten-minute cetacean surveys and log her sightings on the Shorewatch database. Alongside her championing of orca, Beatrice has also demonstrated a commitment to the wider protection and recovery of Scotland’s marine environment. Earlier this year, Beatrice secured a Member’s business debate which highlighted the need to protect marine life during unexploded ordinance removal, in which she raised awareness of the threat to cetaceans from current methods used to remove these devices. Beatrice has also stressed the importance of these issues and the threats to orca among her constituency through her column within the Shetland Times.
Scottish Environment LINK are grateful to both Jenni Minto MSP and to Beatrice Wishart MSP for their deep commitment to their roles as Nature Champions over 2022, and for working closely with both Woodland Trust Scotland and Plantlife Scotland, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation respectively to take action to protect Scotland’s Rainforest and Orca.
With 1 in 9 species at risk of national extinction, political support for restoring and protecting our natural environment has never been more important, and we are very grateful to all MSP Nature Champions for their support over 2022.
Visit Nature Champions for more information about the initiative or follow us on Twitter for updates and news.
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