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Ballantrae becomes South Ayrshire's first Biosphere Community

Kings Arms Ballantrae receiving Proud Supporters certificate 400 x 400

The historic village of Ballantrae has become a Biosphere Community, the sixth to be designated within Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere and the first in South Ayrshire.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation makes its awards in recognition of attributes which are unique and of global importance, and Galloway and Southern Ayrshire was designated a 'UNESCO Biosphere' in 2012.  Over the last decade the Biosphere team has delivered projects in conservation, education, and sustainable development, with a strong focus on accessible community-led initiatives that celebrate local heritage.

The Biosphere Communities scheme invites residents in villages and towns across the region to explore what is special about their locality and the attributes that most inspire community pride.  Local people are invited to take part in a Sense of Place workshop in which they share stories, favourite places, and thoughts on what makes their community unique.  Ballantrae's workshop took place in November and residents have worked over winter producing text and photographs for the dedicated Ballantrae webpage which is now live on gsabiosphere.org.uk.  This will promote the village to visitors from home and abroad who are seeking sustainable, slow tourism experiences such as those provided by Scotland's UNESCO Trail.

Ballantrae occupies a scenic location on the Biosphere's west coast and residents highlighted the meeting of land and sea: birdlife including cormorants, plovers and gulls, the historic herring landings, tales of smugglers who conducted their trade from hidden caves, and sinister legends such as the Knockdolian Mermaid and cannibal Sawney Bean.  To promote local life and culture in modern times, Ballantrae residents chose to spotlight forest walks among the Giant Redwoods at Glenapp Castle and Estate - preferably followed by afternoon tea - and the Kings Arms Community Pub and Hub, an 18th century hostelry which is now owned and run by the community themselves. 

As the relationship between village and Biosphere grows the people of Ballantrae will be able to call on 'Team GSAB' for help in developing community initiatives and promoting special events.  Jenna Cains, Community & Education Lead Officer, said,"Ballantrae has a long relationship with the Biosphere, which I have really only stepped into in recent months, but as with all our Biosphere Communities it has been great fun learning about the village and the area and what makes it unique. Ballantrae has such a spectacular coastal location and is swirling with legends and fables, alongside delivering world class events such as the annual Ballantrae Festival of Food and Drink."

Councillor Alec Clark, who represents South Ayrshire Council as a Board Member said: "As the South Ayrshire Councillor attached on to the Unesco Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Board, I am delighted to see the beautiful village of Ballantrae (which lies in my ward) become South Ayrshire`s first Biosphere Village. Residents have really got enthusiastically behind the ethos and the aims of the Biosphere to become 'Proud Supporters' and add Biosphere Village Status to the many achievements of the past few years. All of this shows what a proud and vibrant community Ballantrae really is."

The concept of Biosphere Communities is a blueprint for living that will not only help drive southwest Scotland's Green Recovery and Net Zero goals but will contribute to the Biosphere's overarching theme: making life better for people and nature.  For more information about the scheme or about Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere please contact jenna@gsabiosphere.org.uk.