Organisations and business from across South West Scotland gathered at Culzean Castle in South Ayrshire for the launch of a new Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere certification mark.
The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Tourism, Fiona Hyslop officially launched the certification which will be awarded to businesses that can demonstrate high standards in delivering environmental and sustainable development benefits.
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere has been recognised internationally as a world class environment for people and nature. The Biosphere offers a fantastic array of landscapes, wildlife, cultural heritage and learning opportunities for communities, businesses and visitors.
The launch of the certification mark was an opportunity to highlight the global value of the UNESCO designations and the potential of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere to support sustainability, economic development and tourism in South West Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said:
“This certification award from Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere is a significant development which aligns with our priority to further promote the south of Scotland and Ayrshire as a tourism destination. As the first area in Scotland to receive UNESCO Biosphere status and with its wide variety of natural landscapes, cultural heritage and wildlife, the Biosphere has much to offer to local and international visitors. I am confident the new award will bring many opportunities to both businesses and communities in the area, ensuring our unique biosphere is preserved and promoted as a place of international significance for locals and tourists alike.”
Dr Beth Taylor Chair, UK National Commission for UNESCO said: “UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves are the world’s only globally recognised designation for demonstrating excellence in sustainable development. Biospheres bring value to their communities by leveraging the powerful UNESCO brand and collaborating with the global UNESCO network. Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere is leading the way in developing a quality mark linked to sustainability for businesses in the region. Congratulations on a great achievement!”
Over recent months a successful pilot scheme has taken place with 3 local businesses from the Accommodation, Food and Drink, and Outdoor Activity Sectors. Balkissock Lodge Bed and Breakfast, Adventure Centre for Education and Salad Brew which is a hydroponic salad and vegetable grower. Businesses using the certification mark hope to attract a premium value or more discerning customers.
Ed Forrest, Co-ordinator of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere said. “We believe our Biosphere can provide a catalyst for new thinking; new economic opportunities, environmentally sustainable development, nature conservation and education. One of only 669 Biosphere’s worldwide and one of only two in Scotland, it offers a unique opportunity for the region through association with the globally recognised UNESCO Biosphere brand and its respected quality assurance.”
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere has been acknowledged by Scottish Government through its inclusion in the “A Nation with Ambition: The Government’s Programme for Scotland 2017-18”.