An award-winning young nature writer will judge the UNESCO Biospheres’ Young Nature Blogger 2021 overall prize.
Autistic naturalist Dara McAnulty’s first book, ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ was published when he was just 16.
The book has won high-profile plaudits. It saw him named the youngest ever winner of The Wainright Prize for nature writing and, most recently, earned him British Book of the Year in the non-fiction (narrative) category, where it was shortlisted with titles by Sir David Attenborough, Barack Obama and Captain Tom Moore.
Dara, who is now 17 and lives in Northern Ireland, has appeared on BBC1 TV’s Countryfile and Springwatch programmes and his book was Radio 4’s Book of the Week. He has featured in national newspapers.
His next book, ‘Wild Child: a Journey Through Nature’, will be published in July.
Dara is also the youngest recipient of the RSPB Medal for Conservation.
Young Nature Blogger began in 2020 as an initiative by UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man. This year, Galloway and South Ayrshire, Dublin Bay and Kerry Biospheres are joining in, running their own local challenges, with entrants aged 21 and under invited to submit up to 500 words by 7th September 2021.
Each Biosphere will put forward their winner for an overall prize, which Dara and Professor Martin Price, Chair of the UK Man and the Biosphere Programme, will judge.
Prior to his book success, when already an established voice for nature via his own blog, Dara visited the Isle of Man at the invitation of UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man in 2019 to speak at the Voices of Our Future event, part of Manx Wildlife Week.
Dara said: ‘I’m so delighted to be judging this wonderful competition.
‘I was welcomed by children from the Isle of Man in 2019 and I was so impressed by their care, compassion and sense of place.
‘In a world that is so fast-paced, writing is an important way to connect with ourselves and all the people and creatures we share our lives with. It can expand the mind and imagination and grounds our hopes, dreams, knowledge.
‘Deeper understanding of our place in the world is generated when we search for words to express our curiosity and emotions. I’m very excited to read the entries. I know they will be amazing.’
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ‘Dara is an inspiration to young people who are interested in, care for and are inspired by nature.
‘Dara’s beautiful first book has, rightly, received incredible praise and he has a brilliant future ahead of him as a voice for nature.
‘Since we met Dara in 2019, we have proudly watched his achievements and we are thrilled that, at a time when he has such prominence and is so busy, he has agreed to renew his link with UNESCO Biospheres and encourage our own young nature writers.
‘We had some fantastic entries last year and we hope young people will again take advantage of the Manx summer to get out and about and get blogging, inspired by Dara.’
For information about Young Nature Blogger 2021, click here.
The Isle of Man challenge is run with Manx Wildlife Trust (MWT) and Isle of Man Newspapers and winners will have their work published in the newspapers and in MWT’s Manx Nature magazine. They will receive MWT goody bags.
The four Biospheres’ overall winner will receive a nature experience in their Biosphere and a signed copy of ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ and matching notebook in which to record their blogs.
The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme celebrates its half century this year and Young Nature Blogger 2021 is an accredited 50th anniversary event.