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IFLI shortlisted for UK citizen science award

IFLI have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for our work to help protect the area's natural heritage through citizen science.

The annual National Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing recognise and celebrate the outstanding people and projects that help us understand our wildlife better. This is because the more we know about what plants and animals are found in an area, where they are, and whether they are increasing or declining, the easier it is to work out the best ways to protect them.

IFLI has been shortlisted for the National Biodiversity Network's (NBN) Lynne Farrell Group Award for Wildlife Recording. Its application included a wide range of work that the Initiative carries out, such as a project called Forth Nature Counts, which encourages local people to record the wildlife on their doorstep. People can get involved in all sorts of ways, from recording the occasional wildlife sighting on a special website called the NBN Gateway, to taking on their own regular survey walk. Volunteers are supported through an extensive programme of free wildlife ID workshops, and IFLI staff are on hand with help and advice, thanks to the way IFLI is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Steve and Linda McKinley, IFLI volunteer Nature Recorders, said: 'We get a buzz from visiting our 'patch', from increasing our knowledge in identifying and recording flora and fauna, from the feeling that we're doing something useful and from witnessing the changes to the landscape through the seasons.'

Other work highlighted includes:

  • Around 10,000 records encompassing over 1,100 species contributed to date.
  • The IFLI team and partner organisations have employed 17 trainees and supported another 58 trainees on employability programmes.
  • As part of the same project there have been formal support and bursaries for Masters dissertation projects with Stirling University (four bursaries have been awarded to date, with a 2017 student undertaking research into ‘The Management Effects of Wildflower Grasslands on Pollinators in Bridgeness, Firth of Forth’ supported by Buglife and IFLI staff).
  • The Future Tides project has provided 41 curriculum for excellence linked outdoor education sessions to nine primary schools and 336 pupils in the landscape.
  • Continuing the sharing of good practice, IFLI has organised a number of conferences and events for land managers on topics such as Invasive Non-native Species, Wildflower Meadow Management, and Habitat Creation.
  • IFLI is a flagship project within the Central Scotland Green Network – one of 14 national planning developments in Scottish Governments’ National Planning Framework 3. It is recognised as delivering on a range of CSGN agendas, and is used as an example of best practice in green network delivery, partnership working and stakeholder engagement. 

Kate Fuller, IFLI's Community Engagement Officer, who manages the project, added “The IFLI partnership is pleased to be shortlisted for this prestigious award that recognises the wealth of work taking place across the Inner Forth landscape to further biological and species knowledge. From our wildlife identification workshops and committed volunteer Nature Recorders, to the work that has been undertaken in primary schools and through paid traineeships, we have been uncovering, sharing and building understanding and pride of the diverse natural heritage of the Inner Forth.”

We were also delighted to hear that of our volunteers, Hugh Tooby, has himself been nominated in the Adult Newcomer Award category. He commented:
'I'm 56 years old and used to be a GP. I left the NHS in 2013 to give myself time to pursue a different career path. I'm a great believer in the benefits of active engagement with the natural world and wanted to do something to support this. My main focus and great passion over the last two years has been citizen science wildlife surveys. This started with the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative in central Scotland where I live but has steadily expanded since to include such initiatives as Capturing our Coast and various British Trust for Ornithology schemes. As a lover of the sea and mountains I'm drawn to doing surveys in these places and I can use a lifetime of skills acquired in wild camping, hill walking, canoeing and mountain biking to support this which will hopefully help to fill in some of the blanks on the data map and increase our understanding of the natural world on which we ultimately all depend.'

The winners of the Awards will be announced on Thursday 16 November at the NBN's annual conference in Cardiff.