‘It’s More than Just Light’ Dark Sky Places Conference – Program speakers now confirmed

A great line up of national and international speakers has now been confirmed for the September conference covering a variety of themes from:

  • Lighting constraints and design with architectural insights of the built environment we need to light. What is good lighting design and challenges in its application?
  • Light and​​ ​its ecological impact and ​it’s effect on human​s.​
  • Darkness and its cultural​ ​role and significance to humanity. The role of ‘community’ in dark sky places
  • Dark skies and its effects​ ​and relationship to health and well-being.
  • The technical aspects of the planning regulations and safety codes, how you measure the dark environment. Why are the regulations set and how do we change them?
  • Transformational effects of Dark Skies and opportunities for economic development through eco-tourism.

We do hope you can join us at this special 3 day event. Day ticket now available for Thursday 21st September

For more information and a detailed program visit:

http://eudarkskiesconference.com/agenda/

 

Wild Film Festival – Scotland 24th – 26th March 17

Join leading naturalists, broadcasters and filmmakers for a weekend-long celebration of the natural world with film, photography, topical talks and special guests.

In Dumfries from 24-26 March 2017 enjoy some of the world’s best wildlife films, plus celebrity speakers plus two photographic exhibitions, art, music, literature and a Wild Film Fayre.

Naturalists and broadcasters Simon King (Big Cat Diary) and Iolo Williams (Springwatch) will be among the 20 speakers along with Sacha Dench “the human swan” who flew a motorised paraglider 4,500 miles from the Arctic to the UK with migrating Bewick’s swans.

WFFS central themes will be Amazing Journeys, Wild Places and Rewilding. Some 30 films are being screened, many of them winners of coveted Wildscreen Panda Awards (the wildlife Oscars). A strong Scottish strand will run through every aspect of the festival.

To check out the programme go to http://www.wildfilmfestivalscotland.co.uk/programme-at-a-glance/

Restoring Peat Bogs in East Ayrshire

The East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative (CEI) have carried out ditch blocking at two raised peat bogs in Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere , creating wetland habitat and supporting peat formation.

Raised bogs are rare and threatened wetland habitats containing peat soils. In the UK, we have lost around 94% of our raised bog habitat through agricultural drainage, peat extraction for horticulture and afforestation. Low Moss and Dalmellington Moss are two of the best examples of this habitat remaining in East Ayrshire.

Low Moss and Dalmellington Moss have been drained and burned in the past to dry out the bog for grazing. Over time this has degraded the habitat, resulting in fewer peatland plants in favour of grasses and scrub. CEI staff have been working with site owners’ Hargreaves (Low Moss) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (Dalmellington Moss) to come up with restoration plans and to carry out the work needed to improve the bog habitat. We will continue to work together in the future to ensure the sites are appropriately managed. In early 2017 specialist contractors, Openspace (Cumbria) Ltd, used low-ground pressure excavators to install 3,150 peat dams and 11 plastic piling dams, and 2,575 metres of bund to block up drainage ditches and slow water loss across 50 hectares of bog.

Retaining water on the site can result in less flooding downstream and prevent peat erosion, which releases stored carbon into the atmosphere. Wetter bogs can support a spongy carpet of specialist plants including colourful Sphagnum mosses, which accumulate over time to form peat. As peat forms, it traps carbon from the atmosphere, helping to tackle climate change. Bogs are also home to amazing wildlife such as hen harriers, curlew, adders and many species of invertebrate.

Find out more about East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative here.

Biosphere to host 2017 European Dark Sky Conference

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, is to be the location for the first ever Dark Sky Park conference to be held in Europe. The conference is being organised by Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, the International Dark Sky Association and Forest Enterprise Scotland, which manages the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park.

The event, being held 20th to 22 Sept 2017, will bring together some of the world’s top dark sky experts with the aim of promoting rural development, tourism and tackling light pollution issues.

The conference is to be held at the Cally Palace Hotel in Gatehouse of Fleet and is timed to run just before the Wigtown Book Festival and other activities are planned to encourage delegates to stay for longer in the region.

Forming the heart of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere,  the Galloway Forest Park is equal in size to about 75,000 football pitches and was designated Dark Sky Status back in November 2009.

Joan Mitchell, Chair of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere said:

“The Dark Sky Park is an integral part of the Biosphere, between them they  offer a 24/7 attraction in south west Scotland, offering the opportunity to celebrate and explore the regions landscapes and wildlife during the day and the dark skies at night.

“Hosting Europe’s first ever Dark Sky Park conference is fantastic opportunity to help put this often over looked corner of Scotland on the map.”

Keith Muir, Forest Enterprise Scotland’s Visitor Services Manager for the area said:

“Galloway Forest Park was the first area in Europe to achieve Dark Sky Park status and we are keen to share our experience and learn from others by being the first in Europe to host such a major conference. This is really good news for putting the south west of Scotland on the map as an international stargazing destination.

“All the partners involved will be working together to ensure the conference is a success and showcases Galloway as a great place to live, work and play. We’re very excited about this major event and the potential spin offs it should create for the local economy.”

John Barentine Program Director for the International Dark Sky Association based in Arizona added:

“It is a testament to the momentum behind the global effort to recognize and protect dark skies worldwide that this international conference is to be held. Further, it is especially fitting that the event will be held near Galloway Forest, where it can be said the movement scored its first major victory for dark skies preservation in Europe. The International Dark-Sky Association is proud to have a seat at the table for this important gathering.”

For more information on the conference log on to http://eudarkskiesconference.com or contact darkskyplaces@gmail.com

Habitat Management and SRDP Workshops – 22nd Feb & 1st March

Are you a farmer within the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere?

It is widely anticipated that the future of farming support will be environmentally based. This means farmers will need to know:

  • Which wildlife habitats they have on their holding;
  • How to manage them and
  • How to demonstrate the positive management being carried out.

Our Biosphere Workshops  will help you identify and manage wildlife habitats on your farm and consider the wider benefits of doing so as part of a thriving farm business.

The workshop will give practical advice on:

  • Habitat management to help farm sustainably and retain the rich diversity present within our Biosphere.
  • What’s needed for a high quality SRDP AECS application – providing guidance and help in unravelling the mysteries of the SRDP Agri-environment and Climate Scheme (AECS) 

We will be providing handouts on key habitats and AECS requirements

When and Where (places are limited so booking is required):

  • Time: 10.30am to 3pm
  • Ayrshire Workshop: Wednesday 22nd February, Carrick Centre, Maybole
  • Galloway Workshop: Wednesday 1st March, Kirroughtree Courtyard, Stronord, Newton Stewart.

If you wish to book a place on one of the workshops please email wendy@gsabiosphere.org.uk indicating your area of interest: eg. Moorland, inbye, AECS, any habitats you know you have and any dietary requirements.

 

Ken-Dee Biosphere Route

A third Biosphere route has now been added to the website. Developed to give a flavour of all aspects of the Biosphere the routes are based around the natural assets provided by rivers and lochs at: Loch Doon and Carrick Forest Drive; Loch Trool and the Cree Valley; and now, Loch Ken and the River Dee.

The Loch Ken and River Dee is a 35 mile circular route starting from Castle Douglas and include a range of attractions that focus on special qualities of the Biosphere; wildlife and natural beauty, heritage and culture, inspiration, tranquillity, local produce and most importantly recreation and enjoyment. Discover osprey and bats at Threave, ancient grave yards, wet woodlands at Ken-Dee marshes, red kites at Bennan as well as Catstrand arts venue and Galloway Activity Centre on Loch Ken.

Look out for the leaflets helping you explore the Biosphere where you can discover nature and landscapes as well as the big Biosphere ideas of conservation, learning and development.

See the routes here.

Searching for Modern Makers

Upland are looking for a small group of young people (16-25 years) from Dumfries and Galloway to take part in Modern Makers 2017. The project is a chance for up to four young people to be tutored intensively for 30-35 days by a professional craft maker to learn craft skills.

The professional makers for the 2017 programme will be slipware potters Douglas Fitch and Hannah McAndrewStudents of the Modern Makers programme will be introduced to all aspects of the slipware process, from the mixing of materials, the making and decorating of the pots, through to assisting in the exciting firing of the pieces in the wood kiln. They will also be offered an insight into the running of a pottery business, visits to other potter’s workshops to explore different approaches to the craft, to galleries and a pottery fair.

See the brief for full details. If you know of anyone who might be interested please tell them about this amazing opportunity.

Biosphere considers future of Scottish Forestry

The Sottish Government recently consulted on the future of forestry in Scotland and invited responses to plans for the devolution of forestry. The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere recognises the important economic contribution of forestry to southwest Scotland but has concerns that a new Forestry Division within the Scottish Government may lead to the loss of the existing regional approach to management and regulation. The Biosphere is also keen to see the Government consider the wider impacts of forestry on local communities, wildlife, water and carbon storage as well as for recreation and tourism.

See the full response from Biosphere here

Explore Biosphere Routes

There is no one place that demonstrates how the UNESCO Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere designation helps inspire a positive future and so a series of Biosphere itineraries have been developed. Look out for the leaflets helping you explore the Biosphere where you can discover nature and landscapes as well as the big Biosphere ideas of conservation, learning and development.

Giving a flavour of all aspects of the Biosphere the routes are based around the natural assets provided by rivers and lochs at: Loch Doon and Carrick Forest Drive; Loch Trool and the Cree Valley; and still in development, Loch Ken and the River Dee.

The itineraries feature businesses and organisations that appreciate the value of the natural assets found in south west Scotland and have shown their aspiration to be proud supporters of the Biosphere by agreeing to the six principles of the Biosphere Charter. The leaflets include a range of attractions that focus on special qualities of the Biosphere; wildlife and natural beauty, heritage and culture, inspiration, tranquillity, local produce and most importantly recreation and enjoyment.

The Biosphere ethos aims to encourage cooperation and collaboration to show that a sustainable way of living is not only possible but already happening. The new leaflets illustrate the wide ranging ambitions of the Biosphere to inspire a positive future that benefits both people and nature.  Taken together the routes illustrate how the Biosphere designation is an accolade that is relevant to all of us.

See the routes here.

Reach for the Stars! – Business Opportunities from the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park – 6th October

Take a leap into the dark and be inspired to make the most of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. With estimates that the park has the potential to bring in £1m annually to the region over the winter months it is an opportunity not to miss. Whether you are a tourism business, or a business that is looking to use natural assets of the region for inspiration and growth this is an event that could give you the edge. In the company of a Biosphere Dark Sky Ranger you will enjoy a star gazing experience. We will give you examples of how you can take advantage of this amazing place and meet with other businesses creating opportunities from the Dark Sky Park and the regions natural and cultural heritage. Come along and join us and benefit from the connections you will make

Time: 18.30 – 21.00

Venue: Kirroughtree Visitor Centre

Cost: Free

Booking: Essential (limited places)

For more information please contact Marie McNulty, marie@gsabiosphere.org.uk at the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere or phone 07467374963

Dumfries & Galloway Business Week 2016