Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere Looks Forward To A Ministerial Visit To Celebrate Its 10th Anniversary Year

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Galloway and Southern Ayrshire was awarded its UNESCO Biosphere designation in 2012, and celebrations of its 10th anniversary will commence on 5th October with a visit by the Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Màiri McAllan MSP, to the Biosphere Community of St John’s Town of Dalry.

One of a network of more than 700 UNESCO Biospheres around the world, Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere is charged with inspiring a positive future for people and nature by supporting sustainable development, conservation and education, and through guiding action on climate change impacts.  Uniquely placed to work in multiple concurrent partnerships across the public, private and third sectors, the GSA Biosphere is recognised as a driving force for innovation, collaboration and change in southwest Scotland.

Key achievements over the last 10 years include its award-winning programme of Sustainable Business support and engagement, community capacity building through initiatives such as PLACE in the Biosphere, and the development of the innovative Blackface sheep project which celebrates the local hill farming heritage while seeking new market opportunities for wool produced in the region.  Invitees to October’s event include members of the Biosphere’s Partnership Board, core funding partners such as South of Scotland Enterprise and Scottish Forestry, and councillors, business and community representatives from across the three local authority areas that sit within the Biosphere’s geographical boundary.

As well as marking the successes of its first decade, the GSA Biosphere is now looking ahead to where its activity and influence should be directed in the years ahead.  A wide-ranging public consultation undertaken in 2022 has resulted in publication of The State of the Biosphere Report, to be launched at the Ministerial visit; this will also be submitted to UNESCO as part of the Biosphere’s ten-year review.  The consultation process and the Biosphere team’s longstanding connections with rural communities, environmental organisations and land managers provided a detailed overview of matters that are of greatest local concern, particularly relating to future land use and the biodiversity crisis, engagement and opportunities for young people, and how to support sustainable economic development.

Ed Forrest, Director of Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, says, “The last ten years of achievement in our UNESCO Biosphere is testimony to the hard work and dedication of many individuals, organisations, businesses, and communities who have committed their time and funding to supporting SW Scotland in developing an internationally recognised reputation for its commitment to sustainability.  With a growing team of dedicated partners and staff this reputation can only continue to grow over the decade to come.”

Further details about the Ministerial visit are available on request to info@gsabiosphere.org.uk.  For more information about Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere please visit www.gsabiosphere.org.uk.