Galloway has been approved as an UNESCO Biosphere, which puts it in the same league as Ayers Rock in Australia and Yellowstone national Park in America.
The United Nations have confirmed that a bid to designate an area of natural beauty that takes in 3000 square kilometres in Galloway and South Ayrshire as a Biosphere has been successful. Towns within the zone of the new biosphere include Castle Douglas, Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Wigtown, Sanquhar and Thornhill.
Biospheres are places with world class environments that promote conservation, sustainable development and they are created to protect the biological and cultural diversity of a region.
The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire biosphere is the first in Scotland and means it is classed alongside Ayers Rock, Yellowstone Park, the Hawaiian Islands and the Danube Delta.
Biosphere reserves are established through a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Programme.
Reacting to the announcement Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:
– Russell Brown MP
"This United Nations has recognised that the environment in Galloway is of international importance. It is exciting to see our stunning natural landscape and rich wildlife acknowledged as one of the key natural environments in the world.
"The eyes of the world are on our region and being designated a biosphere puts Galloway and South Ayrshire in the same class as iconic natural landmarks like Ayers Rock, Yellowstone and the Hawaiian Islands. Joining Galloway on the list of new biospheres this year includes locations in China, Indonesia and Haiti. Along with the UK's first Dark Sky Park, becoming Scotland's first biosphere means that Dumfries and Galloway has another world class accolade to be proud of.
"Galloway is well and truly on the map and being classed as a UNESCO biosphere will not only bring a tourism boost, but also researchers from around the world who will come and study the relationship between people and nature."
Andy Burn covered the story for ITV Border he sent this report: