By Maureen McTaggart

I might be petrified of squirrels, especially the grey one that keeps me from my front door while it stashes food in the plant pot (unlike the red squirrel, left, by Chris Weston), but even in London N1 I am mesmerised by the antics of the local wildlife and tempted to reach for a camera. And that's exactly what young photographers in schools and community centres will be encouraged to do for the forthcoming British Wildlife Photography Awards .

There's time to work some activities into lessons or a school visit as they won't be launched until April 2 (check the website). The awards are open to photographers of all nationalities (so long as the pictures are of British wildlife) and include two under-17 categories to persuade young people, schools and community youth groups to take part.

Entries, digital or film-based, should be in by July 31 and must do homage to the natural world. They can be anything from images of plants, through sea life to land creatures to highlight “the great wealth and diversity of the natural history of the United Kingdom”.

Photographs entered by hopeful snappers will be whittled down by a team of judges including Sue Herdman, the National Trust's magazine editor, Isla Robertson, from the National Trust for Scotland's photolibrary and Greg Armfield, head of photography for WWF UK. Prizes will be awarded in each of the seven categories with overall winners for British Wildlife Photographer (£5,000), Young British Wildlife Photographer (£500), School and Youth Group, British Wildlife Photography Award (£1,000).

Pictures commended by the judges will be included in a nationwide touring exhibition starting with a stint at London’s Hoopers Gallery, Clerkenwell, from September 24. The only downside is that there is a fee for entries - to cover administration and exhibiition costs. This has been kept to a mininum for schools of £5.

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