BUSINESSES and community representatives from across South West Scotland gathered at The Catstrand in New Galloway recently to consider how they could work together and capitalise on local branding which would be available should South West Scotland’s biosphere be awarded UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status in June 2012.
A wide range of speakers were invited including two businesses from the Cairngorms and the Forest of Bowland respectively who shared their experiences in using recognised landscapes to promote and support tourism and businesses. They inspired the delegates by demonstrating the positive impact that they had experienced through sustainable tourism business taking the initiative and working together to create a recognised area-based brand identity.
Other speakers included Howard Wilkinson of Ayrshire Food Network who highlighted the positive business opportunities for local food producers in the proposed Biosphere Reserve area. This was re-inforced by Alistair Prior who represented the Scottish Government. He spoke about the essential role that the food and drink industry has to the economy of rural areas.
Councillor Alec Oates shared his experience of tourism and community regeneration in Carrick and Wilma Finley, chairperson of Destination Dumfries and Galloway, highlighted their efforts to achieve similar objectives across the region and in the southern part of the proposed Biosphere Reserve.
“The day helped businesses to recognise that they could benefit by working together and that cross-border networking would be a vital part of the Biosphere brand,” said Nic Coombey, Building Opportunities in the Biosphere Project Officer.
The majority of the businesses attending were from the food, craft and cultural heritage sector. They participated in a series of practical workshops which addressed topics including promotion and marketing, policy and planning, products and infrastructure and community regeneration.
South West Scotland’s biosphere is a candidate for a UNESCO designation because of its unique combination of special landscapes and wildlife areas, rich cultural heritage and communities that care about their environment and want to develop it sustainably. Its geographic spread is substantial, stretching from Ayr and Cumnock in the north to Newton Stewart and Castle Douglas in the south.
Further events are planned and details as to how businesses can get involved in developing the biosphere reserve is available at: