The positive effect of biosphere status

Cliff walking on the south west coast of Scotland, part of the Galloway/South Ayrshire biosphere
Cliff walking on the south west coast of Scotland, part of the Galloway/South Ayrshire biosphere

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere has made significant progress this year in convincing businesses to use the area’s designation to market south west Scotland.

Biospheres belong to the family of UNESCO designations, which includes famous World Heritage Centres such as Edinburgh and New Lanark.

In June Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Tourism launched a biosphere certification mark scheme for businesses which adhere to the principles of sustainable development, respecting the environment, promoting local produce and contributing to the local community.

The scheme sparked a lot of interest and three businesses - an outdoor activity centre, an accommodation provider and a food producer - have now received the certification mark, with eight more, ranging in size from a substantial employer to one-person enterprises and covering a diversity of products and services, are currently going through the accreditation process.

VisitScotland has also recognised the potential of the Biosphere in marketing south-west Scotland and Galloway and Souther Ayrshire Bisosphere’s business officer Marie McNulty was part of a delegation attending a trade fair in Amsterdam in September to promote the area as a destination for overseas visitors.

Speaking at Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere’s annual general meeting, chair, Joan Mitchell, said: “We live in an area of outstanding natural beauty and wildlife where many businesses and communities see the link between the natural environment and their economic and social success and wellbeing. There is a lot happening locally to raise the profile of Galloway and Southern Ayrshire, including the drive for national park status, and the work being done with businesses and communities by the biosphere. Being part of an international network provides the opportunity to learn from others.”

“For instance we are the first UK biosphere to launch a product/services certification scheme but in setting it up we drew on the experience of other European biospheres like the Rhon in Germany and Entlebuch in Switzerland who have well-established and successful cetification schemes.

“At community level a small community like Glentrool is being given the chance to share experiences and initiatives with Wester Ross and communities in Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland. Being part of this international family is very exciting.”