The Heriot-Watt Scientific Dive Team has been shortlisted for a Nature of Scotland Award in the category of marine conservation. These annual awards are hosted by the RSPB with the aim to recognise and celebrate excellence, innovation and outstanding achievement in Scottish nature conservation.
The Heriot-Watt Scientific Dive Team has been involved with Scottish marine conservation for the past fifty years. Conservation efforts include extensive seabed surveying of marine habitats across Scotland; long-term monitoring of marine environments situated near oil and gas developments, most notably around Orkney and Shetland; and focused research projects across the UK (Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man) and overseas (Norway, Latin America, Malaysia and the Indian Ocean).
Projects include investigation into the ecology and biodiversity of biogenic reefs, the impacts of future climate change and renewable energy developments to such habitats, the potential for restoration of impacted reef ecosystems, the population genetics across species' ranges, and the societal benefits of such habitats (i.e. ecosystem services).
The dive team works alongside numerous marine interest groups including representatives of government and industry sectors so as to inform effective management of marine habitats across Scotland and the UK. For example, survey efforts have provided information on the distribution and condition of Priority Marine Features (PMFs) around Scotland and contributed to the recent designation of 30 new Marine Protected Areas in Scotland.
Winners of the Nature of Scotland Awards will be announced at a presentation dinner held on 20 November 2014 in Edinburgh. The event will bring together 300 key decision makers and supporters involved in Scotland's nature conservation industry.