THE South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has been named Scottish Project of the Year in the 2022 National Lottery Awards.

Through a series of ground-breaking golden eagle translocations, the project is addressing a previously low population of golden eagles in the Borders, as well as Dumfries and Galloway. Starting out with three breading pairs in 2018, the project has brought the total population to 39, the highest number recorded in 300 years.

The project beat off stiff competition from more than 1,300 organisations to reach the public voting stage in this year’s National Lottery Awards, which celebrate the inspirational people and projects who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.

The project has emerged as the Scotland winner following the public vote which was held earlier this year.

Border Telegraph:

Michael Clarke, chair of the initiative's board, said: “Public support is vital in our work to protect golden eagles in the south of Scotland, so we are absolutely thrilled that they have voted for the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project to win the National Lottery Scotland Project of the Year.

“The project’s success to date is testament to the hard work of our pioneering team and the mutual trust and positive support they have built among a wide range of partners – including funders like the National Lottery Heritage Fund, ecologists, raptor experts, vets, gamekeepers, landowners, land managers and 14,000-plus community participants.

“From taking the local population of golden eagles to the highest number recorded here since the early 19th century and building a growing appreciation of the importance of golden eagles to sustainable rural conservation management, to creating the UK’s first Golden Eagle Town and Festival in Moffat and opening the first mainland Eagle Information Point in Philiphaugh, the work of the project team really is exemplary. And we’re incredibly grateful to the players of the National Lottery and all our funders for making all of this possible.”

Border Telegraph:

Project manager Cat Barlow added: “It is such an honour to win this prestigious award, a wonderful recognition of the fantastic support the project has received from National Lottery players, volunteers, communities, stakeholders and project partners.”

Jonathan Tuchner, from the National Lottery, said: “Golden eagles are iconic to Scotland. It's exciting to see the numbers being boosted in their natural habitat thanks to the innovative work of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, supported with funding raised by National Lottery players. It’s thanks to the project’s groundbreaking achievements that they have deservedly won the public vote to be crowned the 2022 National Lottery Awards Scottish Project of the Year.”

Earlier this year, the project reached a new milestone as six more chicks were relocated to southern Scotland. The chicks were transported from the Highlands in September to a secret location near Moffat.