Official visit to South Scotland Biosphere

Members of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere were paid a visit by Minister for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon, Emma Harper South Scotland MSP and Russell Griggs, Chair of the Scottish Enterprise Agency, to update them on how the Biosphere is demonstrating excellence in addressing the climate emergency and biodiversity challenges.

Chair of the Biosphere, Joan Mitchell and Biosphere Co-ordinator Ed Forrest, hosted the visit at Kirroughtree Galloway Forest Park near Newton Stewart in mid-January.

The group heard about the progress of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere over the last few years, on the importance of sustainability and how UNESCO Biospheres are the only internationally recognised designation for a region that can demonstrate such excellence.

Sustainability combines the tackling of economic, social and environmental challenges in the hopes that future generations will still be able to lead a healthy and prosperous life in the region.
They discussed the international partnerships the Biosphere team have been forming how the sharing of best practice can help local businesses and communities in Scotland.
With future funding the Biosphere hope to be able to grow the team and that would help them pioneer a new way of working in South West Scotland that would bring together a range of different sectors from Community, Economy, Environment, Culture, Health and Education.

Joan Mitchell, Chair Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Partnership Board;
“We were delighted to welcome the Minister Mairi Gougeon, who has shown a lot of interest in the south-west, along with Emma Harper MSP and Russell Griggs, Chair of SOSE, to Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere to meet some of the trustees and our coordinator. It gave us an opportunity to brief them on what the Biosphere has been achieving in developing a sustainable rural economy, for example through our business accreditation scheme and bringing different land management interests together. This is all helped by being part of an international network through our UNESCO status and has been achieved with a skeleton staff. We were able to demonstrate that there is a range of projects ready for fuller development but that to reach the potential there needs to be a realistic level of funding.”

Emma Harper MSP South Scotland, commented;
“It was fascinating to hear about the development of international links with other Biospheres which provide great learning opportunities, the biosphere certification scheme which links to sustainability and the forty Biosphere Proud Supporter businesses that are coming together to explore how, by working in partnership, they could create new experiential tourism products based around the Biosphere. I look forward to continuing to shine a light on South of Scotland when I host the Biosphere Drop-In event at the Scottish Parliament this March”.

Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon said:
“The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere is a wonderful natural asset for the southwest of Scotland. Its stunning landscapes, wildlife and cultural heritage make it uniquely placed to engage local communities – and those from further afield – in protecting our natural environment.

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with the team at the biosphere and learn more about their vital work. The biosphere deserves the international recognition it receives as a world class place for people and nature. I look forward to it continuing to play an important role in tackling climate change and protecting the wonderful and unique biodiversity in this special part of rural Scotland.”

Pic caption: Emma Harper MSP South Scotland and Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs supporting the South of Scotland Biosphere with a parliamentary event this March.