Biosphere Land Use Event Inspires Doon Valley Residents
Over 40 people met at Dalduff Farm, Crosshill to learn and discuss how to make the most of the way in which land is best used for the environmental and economic benefit of the people who live and work in the local area.
Organised as part of the Building Opportunities in the Biosphere project funded through Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire Leader programmes, farmers, landowners, representatives from surrounding communities, public agencies and local authorities took part in this inspiring land use event.
Roger Crofts, Chair of the Biosphere Partnership Board, launched the day, by considering what already exists in the area and the work that would be required to improve the way the land is used. He highlighted the opportunity that exists for SW Scotland's Biosphere to give a regional relevance to the Scottish Government's new Land Use Strategy.
Dr Jayne Glass, from the University of Highlands and Islands, presented research undertaken on upland estate management and explained how better communications and a partnership approach were key to creating opportunities for communities and land based businesses to benefit in harmony.
Mark Gibson from Craigengillan Estate, Dalmellington gave an inspirational presentation on the benefits of involving local people in bringing back life to a once derelict estate and emphasised the value of the Biosphere as a catalyst for transforming the prospects for the area.
Rob Soutar, District Manager of Galloway Forest Park talked about how Forestry Commission Scotland is working to fulfil the aspirations of SW Scotland's Biosphere. Rebecca Audsley, Climate Change Manager from the Scottish Agricultural College in Ayr gave an insight into how actions such as more efficient use of fuel and pesticides mean that land managers and farmers can meet Biosphere goals whilst benefiting their business as well as the wider environment.
Inspired by the examples given by the speakers, participants took part in an afternoon workshop to consider the pressures for change in the way the Doon Valley can be used and its special environment cared for.
Biosphere project officer Ed Forrest said "The wide variety of skills and experience all focused on one area resulted in discussions that were both thought-provoking and challenging covering all aspects of land use from agriculture to forestry and wind energy to tourism. I am sure that when South West Scotland's Biosphere gets its international designation this summer it will help us all work together to take a fresh look at achieving a more balanced use of land and a better outcome for everyone ".
South West Scotland's 5268 square kilometre Biosphere is a candidate for a UNESCO designation because of its unique combination of special landscapes and wildlife areas, rich cultural heritage and communities who care about their environment and want to develop it in an environmentally sustainable way.
Further events are planned and details about how people can get involved in developing SW Scotland's Biosphere are available on:
Building Opportunity in the Biosphere is managed by the Southern Uplands Partnership on behalf of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Partnership and is being part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community 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; RSPB; Southern Uplands Partnership and Ayrshire Joint Planning Unit.