Biosphere Newsletter – February 2022

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Welcome to our February 2022 newsletter...

Greetings to all our friends across the Biosphere and beyond! We have almost made it through winter - which in weather terms, has been dreich, dramatic and delightful in equal measure.

Between our monthly updates, don't forget you can contact any of our team at and find us on social media via the links at the bottom of this page.

Our photos are taken from the selection we shared to mark World Wetlands Day on 2nd February. These wetland landscapes are absolutely critical to our UNESCO Biosphere designation - their unique attributes were in large part a reason why our designation was awarded back in 2012, and as we face climate change impacts and a biodiversity crisis they are increasingly important both as habitats for plant and animal life and as carbon stores. On the left is Silver Flowe; part of the Core Area of the GSA Biosphere, it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and recognised as a wetland of international importance via the Ramsar Convention. On the right is Threave Castle and Estate, where Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership are working with the National Trust for Scotland on the Threave Landscape Restoration Project.

Learn more about how our friends at Crichton Carbon Centre turn research into action in support of our precious peatlands
The beautiful village of Ballantrae became a Biosphere Community at the beginning of 2022 - the sixth in our UNESCO Biosphere and the first in South Ayrshire! The Biosphere Communities scheme celebrates connected, resilient, and sustainable communities, and our team works to support local people in projects that explore their shared heritage and 'sense of place'. Biosphere Communities collectively sign up as Proud Supporters of the Biosphere - signalling a commitment to the environment, education and enterprise. We also help to promote the BCs as world class visitor destinations on Scotland's UNESCO Trail! There is far too much to say about Ballantrae than will fit into this wee newsletter so please click through the link below to read more - all content and photos were supplied by Ballantrae residents themselves.

Ballantrae - celebrating the meeting of land and sea
Did we mention that the GSA Biosphere is ten years old this year? We will be celebrating (of course) but on a more serious note we are conducting a Periodic Review in order to report back to UNESCO on our achievements, challenges, and our goals for the decade ahead. As a participatory, community-led organisation there will be a significant public component to our Periodic Review, and the experiences and ideas of our residents, businesses and community groups will be used to shape the Biosphere's work in coming years. If you have five or ten minutes to spare then we would be incredibly grateful if you'd take part in our online survey which will examine general awareness of the Biosphere and capture opinions on the impact of our UNESCO Biosphere designation since 2012.
Click here to take part in our Periodic Review Survey - open until 27/03/22
January was a particularly exciting month as we welcomed two new recruits onto Team GSAB. Faith Hillier is our Community Officer; working alongside Jenna on initiatives including Biosphere Communities and Learning for Sustainability, Faith will be helping to deliver our Sense of Place workshops and new projects we are developing to help communities achieve Net Zero goals. Jenna put Faith straight to work planting trees with NatureScot and Better Lives Partnership at Cairnsmore of Fleet, then swept her along to our office at Kirroughtree for her inaugural backwards-Biosphere-sign photograph. Mary Berry is our Land Use Advice Officer and will be joining Andrew on a whole range of innovative partnership projects that will support local farmers and land managers, including the development of Landscape Enterprise Networks (LENs). Their work on biodiversity will include black grouse recovery, among other projects targeting our High Focus habitats and species.

Haven't met the full staff yet? Here's everyone on Team GSAB, what we do and how to get in touch
We were privileged to visit Balmangan Farm, home of Biosphere Certified business Solway View Holidays last month. Owners Neil and Patricia are devoted to making these 330 acres the absolute best they can be for people and nature, and we are keeping up to date with improvements and innovations - work that will take place over years and has a scope of generations. We were particularly thrilled to meet the Solway swine (disclaimer: we just thought of that alliteration - it's not their official name). Tammy and Ginger are free ranging out in the woods and clearly no pig anywhere could have a better life than snuffling and truffling in ancient woodlands on the coast at Borgue. The tinies are their siblings - a litter of seven piglets born on Hogmanay! Free range pigs improve soil quality, remove invasive plants, promote insect biodiversity and thus support the animals and birds that feed on those insects, and for holidaymakers who come to stay at Solway View provide an opportunity to learn about heritage livestock breeds, nature-friendly farming, and rural life on Scotland's UNESCO Trail. If you would like to get involved during February there is an open call for volunteers to assist with tree-planting on the farm this month; email
'Escape to Nature' - read more about how Solway View is making our countryside accessible to all

A warm welcome to all the individuals, businesses and community groups that have signed up as Proud Supporters of our UNESCO Biosphere recently. The amount of support for people, nature and the UN's Sustainability Goals across this region is amazing and everyone on Team GSAB firmly believes it demonstrates how southwest Scotland can be a model of better living for other regions and communities at home and abroad. Our newest Proud Supporters include tangible and intangible heritage interpreters Artemis Scotlandpurveyors of rest and refreshment The Buck Tearoom at Straiton, Scotland's first sustainable traditional music event Girvan Folk Festival, forest and mountain experience guide Way of the Wild, local resource hub South Machars Community Centre at Whithorn, Nithsdale arts organisation Cample Line and champions of our favourite rodent the East Wigtownshire Red Squirrel Group.
We've mapped all our Proud Supporter businesses to help you plan your next shopping trip, food & drink experience or Biosphere adventure
Don't forget that we're social! Follow our daily news and activities via the links below:
More to read if you've scrolled this far down! Click on a headline to find out more...

We are delighted to be supporting the Ballantrae Festival of Food & Drink again this year - it returns as a live event on 11-12 June and applications are open now for businesses that would like to take part: email 

Our partners South of Scotland Enterprise are well underway on their engagement tour with upcoming dates available to book at locations across the Biosphere (PS we'll be there!)

In case you missed it: our Director, Ed, went walking with Kate Humble on Channel 5 last month! Click through to catch up with South Ayrshire's astonishing coast.

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