As 2018 comes towards an end, it doesn’t seem to be that long ago that we were wrapping
up 2017. It has certainly been a busy year at SUP – with the number of employees rising to
15, and with our projects attracting lots of positive attention. It is also a time of opportunity
with the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency taking shape and the Borderlands
Initiative in development.
The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere is
gaining status, and there are positive developments on the tourism front. At the same time,
our traditional partners are being restructured and having to review what they can do. We
also have the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit and the worrying unpredictability of climate
change. Interesting times!
The South Scotland Golden Eagle Project has had a busy and exciting Autumn; the three
eagles are doing well and have been developing their skills and building experience of the
landscape and weather. Two of the eagles began making short journeys away from the
release site during late September, roosting for a night or two and returning to the
In October, two birds made significant movements away from the
release site. Male C09 (Edward) began an exploration west of the Moffat hills, going almost
as far as Newton Stewart, before moving east again and settling on a large rabbit warren in
the Lowther hills area.
Female 121 (Emily) moved south and west. Both C09 and 121 have
been away from the release site for around two months now and are successfully feeding
themselves, which is very encouraging.
C11 (Beaky) has made several short journeys
around the Moffat hills but remains fairly settled at the release site. The satellite tags are
allowing us to monitor the birds as they explore the landscape and also to guide stakeholder
and community engagement. Our Eagle Officer, John, and Stakeholder Officer, Bryan, have
been busy working with local estates, farmers and raptor workers to keep them informed of
the birds’ movements.
While it is difficult to share precise details of the eagles’ movements
with the public, we hope in time to be able to share some of the general eagle movements
on our website.
The Team will continue to put out supplementary food at the release site
over the winter – so should the young birds choose to return during difficult winter weather
there will be food available as they develop their hunting skills. While there is a lot of
variation, naturally fledged eagles can be supported by their parents until well in to the new
year, so we will mimic that feeding support.
We were very pleased to see evidence of a
visiting eagle on the remote cameras – a 2016 male from the Galloway area dropped in to
one of our supplementary food sites and had some interaction with Beaky (C11). This is
very exciting as subadults (young non-breeders) are not common but indicates that other
young eagles are surviving and feeding themselves in the south of Scotland, and a young
male is promising for potential breeding in the future.
The two Community Outreach Officers, Rick and Philip, have been very busy rolling out
community engagement work and the Eagle Schools initiative. Schools have been learning
about all aspects of golden eagle ecology, behaviour and history – the children are rewarded
with a certificate and visit from a falconer and falconry eagle, to allow then to see an eagle
Stakeholder Officer Bryan, has been very busy continuing his visits to local land managers,
and we are finding that the one to one approach in an informal setting is working well.
Generally, people are very supportive and we find that discussing any concerns and
providing details about the project can help allay any concerns. The Team has been
developing the SSGEP website and updating the blog page with news on the project. We
have established our Scientific Advisory panel (made up of eminent and respected scientists
and practitioners). The Project Board is also meeting regularly and is generally very pleased
You can get updates at www.goldeneaglessouthofscotland.co.uk.
Ride Scotland’s Horse Country
have developed a website where riding routes and horsefriendly
businesses are showcased. See www.ridescottishborders.com. We would welcome
your comments on the site, so email your thoughts to Project Officer, Gowan, at
Galloway Glens Biosphere Experience
Experiential Tourism Officer, Laura Davidson, has been busy meeting with local businesses
in the project area and attracting lots of interest and a number of ideas have been discussed
for further investigation and development.
She has also attended the regional tourism conference, the VisitScotland regional marketing
group and Visit South West Scotland annual conference to network and gain information
about current activity in the area.
She has created a Facebook page called Experience Galloway which will be used to
highlight events, activities and points of interest in the Galloway Glens. The page is
developing organically but is reaching up to 250 people per post already.
Laura is now developing ideas for themes and packages including a potential tour bus route
around Loch Ken with a focus on Biosphere points of interest. There are also a number of
suggestions for events including environmental science events, tours of the hydro-electric
system, nature-based tourism and a food trail. These are all being scoped to confirm
viability with the aim of starting to trial some packages in Spring 2019.
In the New Year there will be some evening meetings for local businesses who want to be
involved in the project – these are planned to run in Kirkcudbright and Dalry/New Galloway.
Dates and venues are being sourced and will be confirmed as soon as possible.
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere
Speaking at Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Partnership’s Annual General
Meeting in Carsluith on 4th December 2018, Chair Joan Mitchell reported on a year of
significant progress. There had been a strong emphasis on working with businesses to
encourage them to use the prestigious UNESCO Biosphere designation to market southwest
In June 2018, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Tourism, launched a
Biosphere Certification Mark Scheme for businesses which adhere to the principles of
sustainable development, respecting the environment, promoting local produce and
contributing to the local community. This Scheme had sparked a lot of interest. Three
businesses, an outdoor activity centre, an accommodation provider and a food producer
have now received the Certification Mark, with eight more, ranging in size from a substantial
employer to one-person enterprises and covering a diversity of products and services,
currently going through the accreditation process.
VisitScotland has also recognised the potential of the Biosphere in marketing south-west
Scotland and GSAB Business Officer, Marie McNulty, was part of a delegation attending a
Trade Fair in Amsterdam in September to promote the area as a destination for overseas
visitors. Biospheres belong to the family of UNESCO designations, which includes famous
World Heritage Centres, such as Edinburgh and New Lanark, and VisitScotland has
recognised the potential of these international accolades as a marketing tool.
Dr Joan Mitchell, Chair of GSAB Partnership Board and Trustees, said:
“We live in an area of outstanding natural beauty and wildlife where many businesses and
communities see the link between the natural environment and their economic and social
success and wellbeing.
There is a lot happening locally to raise the profile of Galloway and
Southern Ayrshire, including the drive for National Park status, and the solid work being
done with businesses and communities by the Biosphere. The Galloway Glens project in the
Stewartry, developed in conjunction with the Biosphere, now has the funding and ambitious
plans to demonstrate the Biosphere principles of sustainable development in action.
A great advantage of the Biosphere designation is that being part of an international network
provides us with the opportunity to learn from others. For instance, we are the first UK
Biosphere to launch a product/services Certification Scheme, but in setting it up we drew on
the experience of other European Biospheres, like the Rhon in Germany and Entlebuch in
Switzerland, who have well-established and successful Certification Schemes.
At community level, a small community like Glentrool is being given the chance to share
experiences and initiatives with Wester Ross and communities in Scandinavia, Iceland and
Greenland. It is very exciting.”
You can get an update on other Biosphere developments at www.gsabiosphere.org.uk.
Dumfriesshire East Community Benefit Group (DECBG)
SUP continues to manage the Ewe Hill 16 community benefit funds for DECBG SCIO and
the third round of funding is open for applications, with a closing date of 31st January 2019.
Where’s Wildlife in Ayrshire
December sees the end of the two-year funding package for the Where’s Wildlife in Ayrshire
(WWIA) project. Over the past two years the project has worked with people and
communities throughout Ayrshire to engage people in wildlife recording, to develop their
skills and to begin the process of establishing a database of local wildlife records that can be
used to ensure that Ayrshire’s important wildlife and habitats is recognised, appreciated and
Sadly, we also said farewell to our WWIA Project Officer, Helen Embleton, who has now left
for pastures new. Helen’s talents were a great asset to the project, and we would like to
wish her every success in her future work. The South West Scotland Environmental
Information Centre (SWSEIC) has appointed Peter Norman as part-time Project Officer so
that we can continue to work on projects throughout south west Scotland.
Reviewing Biological Recording in Scotland
The long-awaited review from the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum (SBIF) into how
the biological recording infrastructure in Scotland might be improved was published last
month. It’s a long and rather technical document, so for a more basic summary of what all
this means for the future of Scottish wildlife recording check out the blog on the SWSEIC
website. You can also download the executive summary of recommendations from the SBIF
Getting the Right Agency
The South Scotland Economic Partnership will become the South Scotland Enterprise
Agency in 2020. The Draft Government Bill establishing this is out for consultation – you can
see it here:
Our chief concern is that it seems weak on both the social remit and on environmental
sustainability which are both vital if the new Agency is to do what is needed (i.e. develop a
more sustainable economy for the south of Scotland).
You can comment on the draft here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/87WVV/.
Alternative Land Uses
A new report ‘Back to Life’ looks at alternative futures for Scotland’s driven grouse moors, an
area covering almost one fifth of Scotland.