Members of the audience were invited to cast their votes after five experts, each representing a different species, went head to head in a lively debate at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
The buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) pictured here, is one of the most numerous bumblebee species in Europe.
Reclaiming his 2008 Earthwatch debate title in style, the winner was Dr George McGavin, BBC Lost Lands presenter and Honorary Research Associate at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. George set the audience buzzing about bumblebees as his choice for Britain's environmental mascot.
Dr McGavin explained that Britain has 25 species of bumblebee - ten per cent of the world bumblebee fauna, but that the bumblebee's habitats, such as hedgerows, are being lost at an alarming rate.
"They are a national treasure," said Dr McGavin, adding that bees were also hardworking and industrious pollinators, essential for the reproduction of many of the fruits and crops that we rely on for food.
Listen to the debate online
Also presenting convincing arguments to find the archetypal British species were environmental campaigner Tony Juniper, writer who sang the praises of the song thrush; Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, who rooted for the oak tree; Dr Johannes Vogel, the Keeper of Botany at London's Natural History Museum, who painted a colourful picture of the bluebell; and Dr Samantha Burgess, Earthwatch Senior Research Manager (Oceans), who made waves for deep-sea coral.
The speakers in full flow during the Earthwatch debate.
The debaters were challenged to choose a species which both represents the UK's invaluable natural heritage, but also the British people's inimitable spirit. They were tasked with persuading the audience that their chosen species is vital to ecosystem health and British social and cultural identity.
Television broadcaster Andrea Catherwood chaired the debate. She told the audience: "In the International Year of Biodiversity, it is important that we are all aware of the many natural treasures that reside within and around our island nation. We don't have to look far to find many of the UK's most iconic species, an array of wild riches, right on our doorstep."
Earthwatch Executive Vice President Nigel Winser said: "Our annual debate at the RGS is always a thought-provoking and entertaining event, while addressing serious environmental issues. We are thrilled that once again our debate sparked so much interest in these critical issues, particularly during the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity."
Winner Dr George McGavin.
Earthwatch's annual debates, which are designed to both inform and entertain, are now in their tenth year and have become a highlight of the conservation calendar. Previous themes have included endangered ecosystems, invasive species, and drought.
The Earthwatch 2010 events programme is kindly supported by the Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa.
The bumblebee was declared Britain's environmental mascot at the 2010 Earthwatch debate last night, 14 October.