Boswell’s Bioblitz

Following the successful Bioblitz at Knockman Wood with Cree Valley Community Woodland Trust in 2014 when over 450 species were recorded another one is now being planned. Wildlife watchers will be invited by East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative to converge on Auchinleck House on Saturday 18th July to find, identify, and learn about as many local plant and animal species as possible – all in 24 hours.

Recording the wildlife found helps scientists understand more about nature in Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and the impact of climate change.

Seeking some the hidden natural treasures in this historic site is an enjoyable activity for wildlife recorders, experts and beginners, young and old. Advice on identification or where to find wildlife will be provided for anyone with the enthusiasm to get involved. Auchenleck House has a rich mixture of habitats with ancient trees, wild flower meadows, woodland and burns all accessible within a short walking distance. Join in with activities such as moth trapping, river sampling, bug hunts, wildlife camera traps and natural art and crafts activities. There is sure to be plenty of wildlife for all to discover and activities to enjoy!

Become a Dark Sky Ranger

Become a Freelance Dark Sky Ranger

As part of the on going development of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park and the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere there is an opportunity for 4 people to be trained to become Dark Sky Rangers.

Closing date 18th March 2015. For further information about this rare astronomical opportunity contact:

Chimwemwe on: 07467374963 or email

Further Information

The Dark Sky Park was established in November 2009 and at that time it was only 1 of 5 such Parks in the world. Now with over 30 across the world astronomy is fast becoming one of the hottest ‘things to do’ for people on weekends or of an evening.

Galloway Forest Park runs a number of events through the 2 main visitor centres in the Dark Sky Park and gives talks to a varied number of groups across the region. However, this is not sustainable for the staff involved and does not meet the demand of the private sector. It has been proven through assessment that many private sector businesses such as hotels, B&B’s and campsites would like to run events but struggle to understand how to do it and what to do. As a result the Dark Sky Rangers will be trained to solve the problems, set up and run events and communicate about the wonders of the night sky. It will then be up to them to market themselves to the private sector as much as they are willing.

If you think you can communicate well then that is what we are looking for. We are not looking for astronomers we are looking for people who can bring a subject to life and explain in clear simple terms to visitors what a subject is about.

If you have some spare time and don’t mind going out at night and would like to earn a little extra cash then this might be just the challenge for you.

We will teach you the basics in astronomy from constellations to nebulae from the moon to Alpha century but you will be expected to do your own learning to advance your knowledge and therefore your ability. The season does not run just in winter. During the summer, solar observing and activities can also take place and this is an additional aspect that is worth reading up on.

We will teach you how to set up a dark sky event for all types of clients and how to customise an event to your own style. We will even put you in touch with many of the private businesses who have shown interest in running an event. There after it is up to you to work with the Dark Sky Park and Biosphere to promote yourself and build your client base.

As an additional skill we will also give you information about the new Biosphere and what it is doing and what it can do for the people living in the area. By adding this to talks it can add another dimension to the topic.

Training will take place as soon as possible with the aim to have training finalised by early autumn to allow you to run your first events supervised in October. The training will be fitted around those that make it through the process.

The training will be paid for through the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere project fund and will cover the training and associated costs. Applicants should be able to drive and have their own transport. Certain materials will be part of the package.

In return for this opportunity an agreement to run certain events will be made with each applicant to assist both the Dark Sky Park and Biosphere officers in their work.

Hard act to follow

At the AGM of the Biosphere Partnership Board in November, I took over from Roger Croft as chair. Having had a long association with the biosphere project, I am happy to do this although I appreciate that Roger is a hard act to follow.

Roger skilfully guided Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere through its early days – the successful application to join the international family of new-style biospheres, the development of a structure and constitution and the securing of the funding which has allowed us to employ three project officers. We owe him a great deal.

One of my priorities as chair is to engage with communities and individuals throughout the biosphere area and help to stimulate public interest in this great opportunity. We are fortunate enough to live in an area of outstanding nature and landscape – we need to ensure that this heritage works to sustain and enhance the economic and social fabric of the area in a sustainable way.

This electronic newsletter is one way of keeping in touch and the communication has to be two-way– please feel free to contribute and comment.

Best wishes

Joan Mitchell

Biosphere leaflet available now

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere is quite a mouthful and the UNESCO designation needs some explaining. The new leaflet shows the extent of the Biosphere and reveals how a simple idea like promoting positive actions that help care for the natural environment can benefit southwest Scotland.

Contact us if you want some leaflets or take a look by clicking here.

Biosphere Charter

A Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Charter has been developed to identify the values and principles of the Biosphere. By signing up to these 6 simple principles organisations, communities and businesses can demonstrate their support as well as help to increase awareness and recognition of the Biosphere. The six principles are:

  • Help conserve the natural resources of the Biosphere
  • Support the economy to benefit people and nature
  • Promote cultural heritage & local products
  • Contribute to the health and wellbeing of the community
  • Develop knowledge, understanding and promote research
  • Raise awareness of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere

Get involved here

Climate Ready Biosphere

Adapting for climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere for many generations. With this in mind the ‘Climate Ready Biosphere’ project is being run by Adaptation Scotland with support from Southern Uplands Partnership. A series of workshops with representatives from local authorities, agencies, businesses and communities will be used to publish a shared vision that will encourage action to help deliver a Climate Ready Biosphere.

Learning page here

Biosphere Brand

The consistent use of a Biosphere brand will help the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere become better recognised. The new ‘splat’ is based on the carnivorous plant, a sundew found in the Biosphere, but can also symbolise communities networking or reaching out to create a sustainable society. The logo will soon be featuring on all our communications and help establish the first Biosphere in Scotland.

Building Opportunity in the Biosphere

Building Opportunity in the Biosphere is managed by Southern Uplands Partnership on behalf of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Partnership and was part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community through Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway LEADER 2007-2013 Programmes; Dumfries and Galloway Council; East Ayrshire Council; South Ayrshire Council; Scottish Natural Heritage; Forestry Commission Scotland; Scottish Environmental Protection Agency; Southern Uplands Partnership and Ayrshire Joint Planning Unit.

It was a two year program designed to raise understanding of the opportunities that the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status will bring to this part of SW Scotland. Two project officers were employed who engaged with local communities, businesses, agencies and organisations to develop initiatives that further understanding and involvement with the Biosphere. The final report is available here:

The Droving Project

Three cows, an award winning photographer, a film maker, a musician, a sound artist and a writer walked along an old drover’s route in Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. Since the journey the participants have been writing, composing and editing, to create the story of the event. An exhibition at Doon Valley Museum runs until 31st January 2015 celebrates people, the land and our agricultural past.

Cree Valley Woodland Heritage project

Demonstrating the link between archaeology and historic use of native woodlands this project provides opportunities for volunteers to get involved in the heritage of the Cree Valley in Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. Archaeological features have been uncovered and will be explained in a woodland heritage trail.