Last month, the Scottish Outdoor Leisure Awards voting panel asked us why we think we deserved to win Scotland's Best Outdoor Adventure Experience 2018. This is some of the content that we included in the judging form...
"One of our proudest achievements to date was running a number of community campaigns to help raise over £1000 for the RSPB to partly fund, satellite tagging a Hen Harrier on the Isle of Mull. The Hen Harrier is one of Britain's rarest birds of prey and the Isle of Mull is a haven for the species, supporting around 9% of Scotland's population. Our community events on Mull helped engage hundreds of people with this iconic bird and provided them with a direct and more personal involvement with a fascinating scientific project.
Throughout the Easter holidays of 2017 we donated 10% of all our income towards conserving the SSSI machair at Calgary Bay, one of Europe's rarest habitats. Now we take guests to this flower rich meadow to celebrate a wonderful conservation project and enjoy the beautiful range of species and colours on show.
Another proud accomplishment is working with TV presenter and Naturalist Iolo Williams, to provide wildlife experiences on Islay, aiming to increase the value of wintering bird populations on the island through eco-tourism. The Isle of Islay is a globally important location for wintering wildfowl, including most of the Greenland Barnacle Goose population. By promoting eco-tourism on the island during the winter months, this helps to act as a 'conversation tool' to Islay's wintering wildlife and will benefit some rural accommodation and catering businesses on the island during their quieter period. Of course, the winter weather only adds to the adventure experience, allowing people to immerse themselves in the dramatic and ever changing landscapes.
During the winter of 2017/18 we launched both the Mull Nature Expedition and the Mull Mountain Expedition, that are designed to connect guests directly with the wilder, more unknown parts of the island on foot. The adventure expeditions expose our guests to research and conservation as wildlife surveys are undertaken and all sightings are submitted to the appropriate conservation organisations. Ewan Miles is also the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) regional representative and the National Seabird Census Co-ordinator for Mull - the expeditions introduce guests to the tireless efforts of conservationists and engage them directly with the often unknowns of research.
More than half of Scotland is upland ecology. The beautiful mountains and glens are special places for both people and wildlife. Land use and climate are changing. How are Scotland’s wild lands responding and what are the impacts on our cherished wildlife? On our Mull Mountain Expeditions we record all upland bird sightings to contribute towards the important BTO 'Whats up' project.
We explore all possible connections with the outdoors, and venturing out into the night is one of them. Nature Scotland has been instrumental in creating and establishing astro-tourism on the Isle of Mull. Ewan spent over 300 hours in the field to capture the beauty of the island at night to produce a short promotional film to try and encourage winter visits. Nature Scotland has provided stargazing experiences on the island for the last three winters and interest continues to increase as more people come to observe some of the darkest skies in Europe.
We’re passionate about waste and the global plastic pollution problem. Nature Scotland is on a ‘Zero Waste’ journey and is working hard to reduce any reliance on plastics, particularly single use disposable plastics. We market using only 100% recycled materials and use only stainless steel catering equipment. We hope to engage our guests on this topic and encourage them in their own sustainable lifestyle."