An informative virtual Members roundtable was recently held on the Scoping Study outcome on a Scottish Borders Biosphere. Emily Cropton of Southern Upland Partnership gave an useful presentation that covered some primary aspects of the Biosphere Scoping Study which was released in April 2021. This explained:
- What is a Biosphere?
- The form of a Biosphere, highlighting the three zones which would work together; these being Core, Buffer and Transition
- That a Biosphere does not involve new legislation
- How a UNESCO Biosphere needs to fulfil the three key interrelated functions of Conservation, Development and Logistic Support
- The wider context of a creating a Biosphere in the Scottish Borders, including elements such as topography, land use, communities, economy, education, climate, environment, conservation, and biodiversity
- How the policy landscape is currently complex and fragmented which could potentially present challenges, although there is little evidence that a Biosphere would conflict with existing aim and objectives
- How education and learning is a key component of a Biosphere, together with the exchange of ideas in relation to sustainable development and research
- The community and stakeholder participation approach and process for creating a Biosphere
- An overview of spatial options for a Biosphere, together with four examples, each with their own strengths and challenges
- Case studies where Biospheres have been created in other areas, including Galloway and Southern Ayrshire
- Conclusions of the study and the next steps towards creating the Biosphere
Also in attendance was Pip Tabor from the Southern Upland Partnership. Members had the opportunity to put forward questions to both Emily and Pip.
Questions and discussions with those attending included:
- Who would be involved in taking forward the Biosphere project and how would this progress. It was explained that the next steps would be to circulate the study report more widely within the community and partners to ensure there are opportunities for consultation and feedback. This may happen through meetings at various locations within the proposed Biosphere boundary. It may also be possible for visits to Galloway and Southern Ayrshire and meet those who were behind the success of that Biosphere
- In particular Emily said she would encourage farmers and land owners to participate in the process. There would certainly be rural community benefits if the Biosphere were created as has been demonstrated elsewhere. An example was how local producers are collaborating with local hospitality establishments.
- It was confirmed the Core Zone of a Biosphere must have a conservation designation (e.g. SSSI, SAC etc.). There is no defined requirement for the size or composition of the associated Buffer Zone, or Transition Zone, but these areas must support the care of the Core Zone
The route forward from here is to:
- Hold community consultations
- Demonstrate economic and environmental advantage within the Biosphere
- Engage with UNESCO to obtain their input and discuss the current progress
More information and the link to the Scoping Study can be found here