Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere

World class for people and nature

Welcoming our newest Biosphere Community

Kirkcolm is the first in the Rhins of Galloway to join the Biosphere Communities scheme

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GSA Biosphere on National Geographic's 'Cool List'

An unmissable destination in 2024

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Scotland's UNESCO Trail

Discover the wonders within

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Local To Global

From the GSA Biosphere to the UK's other 57 UNESCO sites

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Merrick Scottish Blackface Knitwear

From rural industry to social enterprise

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Good For Business

Apply now for the Biosphere Certification Mark

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Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere

Covering almost 9,800 km² of southwest Scotland's land and sea, Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere follows the rivers that flow out of the Galloway Hills: through forests and farmland, historic villages and towns, all the way to a ruggedly scenic coast.

As a region, our Biosphere includes iconic wildlife and natural habitats which are recognised as being of international importance. As an organisation, we create and facilitate partnerships that support conservation, learning, and a sustainable local economy. As a team, we are helping our communities become more resilient to climate change impacts, making Galloway and Southern Ayrshire a key part of the nationwide drive to achieve Net Zero goals by 2045.

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Galloway and Southern Ayrshire is recognised as a world class environment for people and nature.

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire’s designation was awarded in 2012 by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. There are more than 700 Biospheres around the world, a dynamic and interactive network working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Every UNESCO Biosphere is a centre for learning and research, and for testing solutions to some of the most critical challenges of our time.

The GSA Biosphere vision: To celebrate our passion for living in a way that benefits people and nature.

Our programme addresses climate change impacts, land use and the biodiversity crisis. Individual and community wellbeing is an essential part of our remit, encouraging a closer connection with the world around us and ensuring the sustainable provision of food, fibre and fuel. Alongside local stakeholders, partner organisations and members of UNESCO’s global network, Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere is sharing knowledge, experience and ideas in pursuit of a better future for all.

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What We Do

Our ordinary is extraordinary

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire is a place of inspiration and discovery, where countless generations of travellers have paused to sit beside rivers and gaze across wild landscapes. Some of Scotland’s best-known thinkers and writers have spent time here, from St Ninian to Robert Burns. Today visitors are welcomed into our rural communities and invited to enjoy a cultural scene that celebrates the richness of Biosphere life.

Explore the Biosphere

Latest News & Events

2 Feb

World Wetlands Day – 2nd February 2024

February 2nd marks World Wetlands Day, a UN awareness day recognised worldwide that aims to raise understanding of our important […]

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31 Jan

Kirkcolm becomes our ninth ‘Biosphere Community’!

The village of Kirkcolm has become a Biosphere Community, the ninth to be designated within the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire […]

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30 Jan

New campaign with VisitScotland showcases ‘the beautiful south’

Outdoor adventure seekers from central Scotland and Northwest England are being urged to plan a trip to one of the […]

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