Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere boundary extended for tenth anniversary

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere boundary extended for tenth anniversary 

We have congratulated the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere for the renewal of its UNESCO status for a further ten years.

A global delegation of UN officials visited the Biosphere on 4 July to mark the renewal, in recognition of its pioneering achievements in sustainable development and supporting global climate change goals.

The revalidation reflects south-west Scotland’s world class natural heritage and the leading role the Biosphere plays in building a secure and greener economic future for Scotland and the UK.

Extension of Biosphere boundary

Further highlighting the area’s global significance, the UNESCO delegation also revealed that the GSA Biosphere’s boundary will now be extended to incorporate:

  • Alloway - the home of Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns
  • The Rhins of Galloway - Scotland’s most southernly point
  • 12 nautical miles of the marine environment

The site will grow from more than 5,200 km² to almost 9,800 km².

This news has been welcomed by community groups, conservationists, business leaders, landowners, farmers, schools, and other UK biospheres.

What has the Biosphere achieved in the last ten years?

  • Championed sustainable development in the area’s seven river catchments, 110 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and 22 European designated sites
  • launched the innovative Blackface Wool Project, supported by the Blackface Breeders’ Association and British Wool, to promote the versatility of local wool
  • Pioneered Biosphere Communities and the Biosphere Certification Mark, which recognise exemplars in local sustainable enterprise.
  • Launched the innovative Biosphere Footsteps Programme, which supports local residents to make positive environmental impacts while cutting domestic costs.
  • Played a key role in the development of Scotland’s award-winning UNESCO Trail – the first of its kind anywhere in the world
  • Fostered international collaborations, including hosting colleagues from UNESCO Biospheres from around the world on learning journeys.
  • Launched a Learning for Sustainability Toolkit, to support the Scottish Government’s Curriculum for excellence
  • Piloted groundbreaking Community Visioning workshops, which are part of a project involving the UK Commission for UNESCO, the GSA Biosphere and other UNESCO designations in Scotland. It is believed these could lead to a significant landscape restoration project.

SOSE support

We have supported the Biosphere since our inception, including a £1.9million grant over five years announced in October 2020

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of SOSE, added:

“In 2020 South of Scotland Enterprise committed to supporting the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere with one of our most significant funding awards to date, which recognised the organisation as bold, collaborative, and fully embedded in the communities of the south of Scotland but with potential to do much more.

"Renewal and expansion of the UNESCO designation recognises the opportunities already delivered by the Biosphere team through a ten-year programme that brought sustainability to the forefront of life, leisure and industry in this region, and we look forward to their next decade of success, innovation and growth.”

Meriem Bouamrane, Head of Research and Policy for the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme said:

“The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere is an inspiring, internationally recognised place for living, which is reconciling conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

"We are absolutely delighted to announce today that we will be renewing its designated status for a further ten years, including an expansion of its geographical boundary.”

Melanie Allen, Chair of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, said:

"We are truly honoured to be recognised by UNESCO with an Ambassadorial visit to mark the occasion.

"The prominence of the visiting delegation really does speak volumes about the achievements and distinction of our organisation to date.

“This is a significant milestone and excellent news for our communities, businesses and partners.

"Their continued dedication to the Biosphere unites us with a shared vision and passion for sustainable rural economic development, through best practice and partnership working.

"The groundbreaking work that has already been delivered in partnership with our dedicated Biosphere team is absolutely astounding. We can’t wait to see what the next ten years brings.”