Galloway and South Ayrshire has been compared to Yellowstone and Ayres Rock after being officially recognised by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as the first biosphere in Scotland.
Towns within the zone of the new biosphere include Castle Douglas, Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Wigtown, Sanquhar and Thornhill.
Galloway MP Russell Brown said the environment and landscape in Galloway has been “recognised for its international importance”, as the area has been approved as an UNESCO Biosphere, putting it in the same league as iconic natural landmarks like Ayers Rock and Yellowstone.
Mr Brown said: “The eyes of the world are on our region and being designated a biosphere puts Galloway and South Ayrshire in the same class as iconic natural landmarks like Ayers Rock, Yellowstone and the Hawaiian Islands. Joining Galloway on the list of new biospheres this year includes locations in China, Indonesia and Haiti. Along with the UK’s first Dark Sky Park, becoming Scotland’s first biosphere means that Dumfries and Galloway has another world class accolade to be proud of.
“Galloway is well and truly on the map and being classed as a UNESCO biosphere will not only bring a tourism boost, but also researchers from around the world who will come and study the relationship between people and nature.”
Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson added: “I am absolutely delighted that UNESCO has now formally recognised the Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere. I have supported this initiative from the outset, and am aware of the huge amount of collaborative work that has gone into the application between Dumfries and Galloway Council, East Ayrshire Council, South Ayrshire Council, Southern Uplands Partnership, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forest Enterprise amongst others.
“Coupled with the Dark Sky designation, this will increase the prestige of the area considerably, and allow us to justifiable claim that Galloway is now Scotland’s premier base for nature based tourism.”
Councillor Graham Nicol, Biosphere Spokesperson for Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “This decision by UNESCO to approve our application for a Biosphere in South West Scotland will be a great asset.
“We have a wonderful environment that is often overlooked in national tourism promotion and a whole range of quality small businesses linked both to tourism and the use of the land.
“UNESCO Biosphere status will be a powerful brand for marketing the whole area on the world stage. “