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On 4th September, Wester Ross was officially welcomed into the UNESCO network of worldwide Biospheres at a ceremony held in Kinlochewe Village Hall. The certificate was presented by Meriem Bouamrane, a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme Specialist and Coordinator of the European MAB Programme. In her speech, Madame Bouamrane explained the philosophy behind the MAB Programme and that, of all the UNESCO programmes, it puts people at its centre. She went on to say: “It is thus a long term commitment and an international engagement. It is a historical moment today because you can prove something deep, to yourselves and to the world: that people are not the problem, people are the solution. People have the power to shape their own destiny, to enact their own visions of their future.”
Heritage Lottery Funding Update
After our initial expression of interest received a favourable response, the Wester Ross Biosphere was invited to make a full application to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Great Place Scheme’. Our project proposal, Wester Ross - Old Roots and New Shoots – plans to focus on our natural and cultural heritage in order to address key challenges to the sustainable development of the area. We understand that there has been a great deal of interest in the initiative, with many potential projects hopeful to receive funding. Only 5 ‘Great Places’ in Scotland will be awarded and successful applicants will be notified by the end of December 2017.
In October, we will be attending the annual NordMAB conference, hosted this year by the newly designated MØen Biosphere Reserve in Denmark. NordMAB is a sub-network for cooperation between Biosphere Reserves to address the challenges of regional sustainable development in a northern context. We look forward to participating in this event and learning from our new partners from Denmark, Greenland, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia.
SHAPE PROJECT- We have been working with UHI to develop common methods to identify stakeholder groups and interactions across the Northern Periphery and Arctic Region so we are better able to evaluate what works when it comes to engaging with as wide range of contributors as possible. The first regional stakeholder meeting will be early next year and will focus on mapping cultural and natural heritage and identifying successful initiatives and challenges. The UNESCO Biosphere label belongs to everyone who lives and works in the Wester Ross Biosphere, so everyone has something to contribute, particularly when it comes to Heritage. We’re also gearing up to host a project meeting here next April to show off how our region is becoming more sustainable itself and learn from our partners where challenges have been identified.