2024 Award Winner’s Spotlight: NGO Impact Award

Nature Champions

Scottish Environment LINK

This award was sponsored by:




The Scottish Environment LINK’s ‘Nature Champions’ initiative celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2023, aiming to engage Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) in championing Scotland’s threatened species and habitats. Each MSP selects one or two species or habitats to champion throughout a parliamentary session, often focusing on those within their constituency or region.

A previous CIEEM award winner in 2016, the initiative has gained significant further traction since then and 176 MSPs have previously or are now participating. They have:

  • Lodged 115 Parliamentary Motions in support of their species or habitats.
  • Asked 108 Parliamentary Questions about their species or habitats.
  • Highlighted their species or habitats in 18 Parliamentary Debates.
  • Taken part in hundreds of site visits – 26 Nature Champions attended site visits in 2023 alone.

The initiative’s success was itself commemorated with a Parliamentary Motion and a public exhibition, underscoring its influence on political engagement with conservation efforts. The Nature Champions 10th anniversary exhibition, featuring interactive displays showcasing Scotland’s biodiversity and attended by numerous MSPs, provided a platform for raising public awareness and fostering appreciation for Scotland’s natural heritage.

The engagement primarily involves Scottish Environment LINK members working closely with MSPs, providing briefings, organising site visits, and facilitating various activities. Regular communications, including newsletters and social media updates, keep stakeholders informed about ongoing efforts.

Emphasising bipartisan support, the initiative aims to involve MSPs from all political backgrounds, reinforcing the importance of environmental conservation as a shared priority. Adaptability has been crucial for the initiative’s sustained relevance, demonstrated through innovative approaches like the MSP Nature Champion of the Year award and group site visits.

Overall, the Nature Champions initiative has successfully engaged MSPs across party lines, promoting active involvement in environmental conservation. Through continuous adaptation and creative approaches, it continues to make significant strides in raising political awareness of the value of Scotland’s natural environment. Furthermore, it has inspired similar programmes in other parliamentary bodies (notably Wales and England) and local authorities.