RICHARD Lochhead, Scottish Rural Affairs and Envir- onment Secretary, visited at Culzean Castle last week to celebrate the Biosphere status just been awarded to Galloway and Southern Ayrshire by Unesco.
The designation, which includes large parts of Dumfries and Galloway, as well as East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire, is the first of its kind in Scotland and has three distinct zones covering an area of more than 5000sq km.
The new Biosphere joins two other reserves in the UK, one in North Wales and the other in North Devon.
The Biosphere contains areas of outstanding beauty but aims to support sustainable economic growth instead of restricting development which can have a negative impact on local economies.
Mr Lochhead met some key individuals who have worked hard since 2005 to secure Biosphere status for the area and said: “The Unesco Biosphere is an internationally recognised brand for outstanding natural environment and I’d like to congratulate everyone who worked so hard to secure this marvellous achievement.
“Galloway and South Ayrshire have special landscapes, wildlife and, most importantly, communities that care passionately about the environment and culture and want to do something to develop the area in a sustainable way.”
Councillor Graham Nicol, Biosphere spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Council, added: “Unesco Biosphere status can be used to promote the region and open doors for communities living in and beyond its boundaries. As well as the anticipated icrease in visitor numbers, the Biosphere will provide a catalyst for learning to ensure the area is protected.”
Mr Lochhead enjoyed a presentation of the work leading up to Biosphere designation.
He added: “The Biosphere designation offers a very exciting opportunity to demonstrate how to do things differently and I’m sure it will allow local businesses and communities to thrive while protecting and conserving our environment for future generations.”
Councillor John McDowall, depute leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: “The establishment of the Unesco Biosphere dovetails very well into our plans and policies for the future, which will enable us to drive forward sustainable economic and tourism development.
“Young people are our future, so it is vital we continue to educate them about the importance of respecting and protecting our environment for future generations.
“By working with them and other people in our communities, we will ensure that South Ayrshire flourishes while conserving our environment.”
And Councillor Robert McDill, of East Ayrshire Council, said: ““The natural environment offers many social and economic bene- fits for local people and communities and this designation supports our regeneration initiatives.”