Learning & Research

Supporting a better understanding of nature and global issues is an important goal of the Biosphere that fits into a wider Learning for Sustainability approach.

Learning for Sustainability is defined by UNESCO as ‘learning to live within the environmental limits of our planet and to build a just, equitable and peaceful society. It is essential for the well-being of all and is an international priority.’

We are fortunate in southwest Scotland to be in part of the UNESCO designated Biosphere, awarded to areas renowned for their special environments which are valued by local people. The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere is a first for Scotland to demonstrate our passion for living in a way that benefits people and nature. Learning for Sustainability and Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere are based on the same concept; to inspire a positive future.

The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere is an inspiring place for outdoor and creative learning which works towards a flourishing, sustainable world where communities value the natural environment, societies are inclusive, equitable and peaceful with a vibrant economy. We will promote learning for sustainability outside and in the classroom and will work towards making resources available which can be used by schools, colleges and Universities as well as informal learning groups.


The Biosphere Partnership will support, promote and disseminate new research to better understand our environment. We will encourage exchanges and sharing of experience, information and good practice through learning and networking opportunities with Biosphere Reserves around the world.

Biosphere Research Priorities have been identified in the context of guidance relating to research across the World Network of Biosphere Reserves provided by UNESCO. The priorities are not definitive or prescribed and should be read as an invitation to do research in the region. We want to encourage research across the applied science, social sciences and arts and humanities. We are particularly keen to encourage interdisciplinary projects which take up the challenge of sustainable development.

Priority interdisciplinary topics include:

  • Understand the relationship between the Biosphere and strategies for resilience and adaptation to climate change in local communities.
  • Explore opportunities for the Biosphere to benefit from policy developments including payments for ecosystem services.
  • Investigate how different types of expertise, particularly on the Biosphere Partnership Board, are combined (or not) in practice.
  • Understand relationships between people/communities and ecological change e.g. public perception of signal crayfish.

An example of recent research inludes:

Understanding local community’s values, worldviews and perceptions in the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve

There has been a long history of natural heritage research in the area:

Research papers relating to the core and the buffer of the Biosphere