June 2017 Newsletter #WesterRossBiosphere

It has been a busy few months for the Wester Ross Biosphere since our AGM in March.

Our project officer, Natasha Hutchison, officially came into post in the first week of April and has been tasked with assembling our 10-year development plan along with the more general goal of increasing awareness of the potential value of our UNESCO accolade.

She has been meeting with community councils and development companies and attending various local events to answer questions about biosphere concepts, but mostly to listen to what people feel are the issues that need to be addressed for our long- term environmental, economic and social sustainability. Having met with over a dozen groups thus far, there are common themes emerging which are beginning to give shape to a comprehensive future vision – but there is still much to include! Natasha would like to meet with as many local interest groups as possible, so please get in touch with her if you would like to provide input and/or discuss the biosphere concept and plan. Natasha@westerrossbiosphere.com

Celebrating the Success of Scotland’s Biospheres at Parliament

In April 2017, Emma Harper MSP invited the Wester Ross Biosphere to present at a parliamentary reception celebrating the success of Scottish biospheres. The event was co-hosted by Scotland’s only other biosphere, located in Galloway & Southern Ayrshire. It provided an excellent national platform to demonstrate not only the value of the UNESCO accolade, but also the strength of our relationship with our colleagues in Galloway, who have supported us on our journey from the initial nomination to becoming Scotland’s second biosphere.

‘SHAPE’: Sustainable Heritage Areas: Partnerships for Ecotourism

The Wester Ross Biosphere has teamed up with organisations in nine different countries to access a share of a €1.5 million funding pot for a three-year project. The idea behind SHAPE is that if done carefully, ecotourism can increase visitors’ understanding of our way of life and history, provide jobs and help us look after our landscape. We will be working with partners in other Northern countries to find out how they have already found solutions to the challenge of making tourism a sustainable industry. There will be a range of opportunities for local businesses and community groups to get involved and see how they can apply fresh ideas in Wester Ross. For more information contact our project officer, Laura Hamlet: shape@westerrossbiosphere.com

Heritage Lottery Fund – Great Place Scheme

In early June, and as lead partner, the Wester Ross Biosphere submitted an Expression of Interest to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Great Place Scheme’ - a pilot initiative which aims to boost access to heritage, to increase equality and improve life chances across Scotland. Our project proposal, Wester Ross - Old Roots and New Shoots - will focus on our natural and cultural heritage in order to address key challenges to the sustainable development of the area, including an ageing population and continuing youth out- migration, which threaten the viability of our communities. If we receive a favourable initial response in the coming weeks, we will be invited to make a full application later this summer.

We wish to thank you for your support and encourage you to stay up to date with us online via:

Facebook @WesterRossBiosphere

Twitter: @WesterRossBios

We will soon be updating our web site with board member profiles.

www.westerrossbiosphere.com

We are always happy to share events which fit within and promote the values of the biosphere. If you would like us to help, please get in touch or use the hash tag #WesterRossBiosphere