The following updates were received from the individual Biosphere Reserves:
Brighton & Lewes Downs
- The EU Interreg Channel funded ‘Bio Cultural Heritage Tourism’ (BCHT) project has now started in practice, working in partnership with North Devon BR (lead) and 2 French Biospheres. A local project officer for our Biosphere has started work, based at VisitBrighton, and a launch conference is planned to be held in Devon on 14-15th November.
- A local stakeholder meeting was held in July on Natural Capital, Green Infrastructure and planned development in Brighton & Hove, entitled ‘Growing Our Living City’, to explore future ideas for environmental enhancements alongside built development. Inputs have also been given to the Brighton & Hove City Plan Part 2 consultation on the city’s local development framework.
- A number of proposals (up to 7) for new Sustainable Drainage Schemes (SuDS) in urban greenspace are being progressed locally, following the pilot sites that we created in 2016 that were used as a case study through a rain gardens video at a UN SDGs meeting in New York in July 2018.
- A new digital arts project has been launched to the public – The Living Coast Undersea Experience – a new virtual reality (VR) creation that enables people to have the sensation of exploring the diversity of our local underwater marine environment of the Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) of ‘Beachy Head West’. A funding bid has also been submitted by a leading arts partner to develop new creative interpretation features for the MCZ working with local schools.
- Communications work has included a jointly branded cycle ride around ‘The Living Coast’ (TLC) in July, and co-branded large flags with local partners along the coast.
- We are commencing review of our Biosphere Management Strategy (2014-19), in order to create a revised version for the next five-year period.
- Update on the development project co-funded by LEADER and the local authorities:
- The contract to re-engage education providers and strengthen practical links with schools has just finished. The report will be available very soon. The Dyfi Biosphere Education Group does not have the capacity to function as a proactive entity but several providers are working with several schools and the information network will continue. A relationship or merger with the Dyfi cluster of Outdoor Learning Wales is being explored.
- The contract to develop the food and drink cluster of visitor-oriented businesses has been extended to the end of 2018.
- The future of farming has become controversial and is a delicate space to work in, for two main reasons:
- Welsh Government’s consultation on farm and rural support Brexit and Our Land proposes stopping basic payments and switching to supporting provision of public goods, prompting the farming unions to argue strongly for a delay in this, as in Scotland and N Ireland.
- The Summit to Sea project (to re-establish natural functioning of ecosystems and to support compatible livelihoods, fronted by the Woodland Trust and Rewilding Britain) has been funded and has raised hackles of farmers and others who see it as cultural imperialism and react to the word rewilding.
- As part of the evaluation, CamNesa will undertake a desk study and secondary research exercise to identify sources of information that will support the need to develop the Dyfi Biosphere, with a particular focus on the level of understanding of the designation within the business community, groups and individuals who reside within the area.
- A new facebook page @dyfibiosphere has been set up, and the Instagram account under same handle has been revitalised. Both are bilingual and visitor-facing, and complement the existing @biosfferdyfi facebook page which has a broader agenda.
- A new leaflet is needed.
- The Transition Zone is likely to be extended a little by including 3 additional Town and Community Council areas.
- A successful Annual Meeting was held in Aberystwyth on June 12th.
- The final Business Plan for Interreg funding for the Dyfi-Dublin Bay ‘Biosphere Eco-Tourism and Recreation Loop’ has been submitted.
- Iolo ap Gwynn has been succeeded as Partnership Chair by Cllr Ray Quant, Deputy Leader of Ceredigion County Council.
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire
- Biosphere Certification scheme launched in June 2018 by Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop with 3 pilot businesses. A further 7 local businesses have applied ranging from accommodation providers to venison farmers to wood pellet manufacturers.
- Working closely with Visit Scotland to promote the Biosphere as a destination through;
- UNESCO Biosphere Trail
- South of Scotland Marketing Campaign
- International marketing event in Amsterdam
- VIP Partnership agreement between GSAB Charter sign ups and VS offering training, promotion etc.
- We are currently focused on delivering three key projects running in the Biosphere that are all furthering awareness of the Biosphere;
- HLF PLACE £200k project, 2 years’ duration, working with nine communities in three defined ‘landscape areas’ promoting, enhancing and protecting heritage of the area. Two project officers supported by two 8-week duration intern positions.
- Biosphere Experiences £120k project, 18 months’ duration, packaging activities to promote the Biosphere as a tourism destination.
- SHAPE developing eco-tourism opportunities based and natural and cultural assets through developing new partnerships and networks.
- GSAB is a key partner in supporting the development and delivery of two circa £5M HLF Landscape Partnership Schemes run by D&G Council and East Ayrshire Council respectively.
- Working with James Hutton Institute who are doing research into the GSAB Sense of Place toolkit and how we use it with communities.
- INTERFACE research through Strathclyde Uni into the economic value of the UNESCO Biosphere brand for marketing products, services and packaged experiences.
Isle of Man
- The Isle of Man Government in July published a plan to reduce single use plastics within the public service and has appointed sustainability champions in ach Department to drive this, with Biosphere input and in line with Biosphere ethos. A wider, cross-community strategy is being prepared.
- We have pledged support for the World Network of Coastal and Island BRs’ project to reduce the impact plastics have on seas and shores.
- In September, nine new marine nature reserves in Isle of Man waters came into being to protect species and habitats while preserving the needs of the fishing industry and leisure users. This follows the pioneering Ramsey Bay model. An environment reporter from The Guardian has visited the Island in this context and we await the feature they will publish.
- We held our first Biosphere awards in October. They attracted 30 entries in four categories: environment, energy, education and public awareness and economic sustainability.
- A busy summer of public events closed on Friday 19th October when we participated in 10K Day. celebrating charity Beach Buddies’ 10,000th volunteers and involving five local schools. At the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival, we captured BBC1 Countryfile presenter Adam Henson talking in good terms about Biospheres and also gained valuable UK media coverage. Food producers continue to leverage Biosphere to boost buy-in/trade.
- We are involved in the launch of a charitable project to create an Irish Sea Centre to serve as a hub for information gathering and good practice, public awareness, innovation and research by all those ‘sharing’ the sea’ and hosted a visit by the Irish Sea Maritime Forum in connection with same.
- We are visited (same time as IoW) by Meriem Bouamrane, programme specialist, UNESCO MAB. We will also welcome ICC chair Dr Enny Sudarmonowati at the end of November.
- We plan to launch a Refill scheme, a ‘Biosphere Badge’ for Guides, have plans for a quilting project and an arts festival…lots and lots more but am out of words.
- We now have 142 Biosphere partners across Government, business, community, charity etc, signed up the ‘Pledge’.
- The Interreg BCHT project has been approved and the grant offer letter signed with the project about to have its kick off conference at Saunton Sands November 14th and 15th. There are spaces available for the UK MaB committee.
- We are carrying out a number of projects related to water: 1) Estuary project: to reduce Faecal indicators in the waters immediately around the estuary basin providing grants for the farmers for land based and constructed wetland interventions. 2) Woods for Water: operating over 3 main catchments to encourage tree planting for attenuating waterflows and pollution form land. 3) 2 Natural Flood Management programmes: coastal and small catchment. EA are now asking the BR to provide estimated costs to run a further set and to incorporate cost benefits derived from our ecosystem service planning tool.
- For the pioneers we are now ready to design the trial for the new agri-environment scheme and also be an early user of the new biodiversity metric tool for achieving net gain from development. A secondee form Highways England is helping with the net-gain approach.
- Marine pioneer is progressing well with the application submitted to EMFF to produce a marine natural capital plan over the coming 18 months.
- The forestry related work is progressing with the inclusion of PAWS restoration and extension services models to get woodlands back into management.
- The Joint North Devon and Torridge Local Plan is now agreed and firmly embeds the BR and the concept of using ecosystem services to assist in development management decisions.
- Community engagement work is starting on marine plastics; the road signs will be put in place soon, and we are developing films on farming as a pre Brexit documentation. WWF UK are in partnership with Sky-Ocean Rescue to build campaigns around marine protected areas.
- We have an excellent relationship with a group of GPs which is leading to a community wellbeing project.
- The science partnership is working well. We already have a new scientific publication on cost prioritisation for new intertidal habitats through SWEEP.
- The WRB 5 year Strategic Plan is near completion. Mairi Gougeon MSP, SG Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment has agreed to launch our Plan. Working Groups have been set up to cover the strategic themes within the plan to identify projects that can be taken forward and money sought for projects rather than the reverse. Also they will bring a wider range of folk into the WRB.
- Tourism is important to the economy of Wester Ross. There is work to be done due to the phenomenal impact in a short period of time of the success of the North Coast 500. As part of the SHAPE project, working with our Tourism Working Group, we are taking forward the production of a Destination Management Plan (The first for Scotland). Hopefully this will provide some sort of solution to the issues raised by the North Coast 500.
- WRB also continues to be part of work going on to identify gaps in provision of marine tourism along West Coast of Scotland.