The Southern Uplands Partnership has been promoting the idea of “nature-based tourism” since it commissioned an audit of nature-based attractions in the Borders back in 2003 which was followed by an audit of the whole of South Scotland. Further work looked at how these sites could be clustered and in 2009, SUP was funded by SNH to try establishing a working cluster in the lower Nith Estuary. This project subsequently grew into Wild Seasons which was awarded LEADER funding in 2012 and the project grew in scale and ambition extending into the Scottish Borders, developing on-line capability and adding value to local festivals such as Wild Spring. We also developed and ran a successful Wild Film Festival. While nature-based tourism has now been mainstreamed as part of the National VisitScotland strategy, financial support in South Scotland has reduced and progress has stalled. SUP is currently working to try to revive the initiative.
Thanks to funding from NatureScot, SUP recently produced a report looking at the current (post-covid) potential of “nature based” tourism, for which we used a very broad definition, including cultural, experiential, agricultural and recreational along with nature-watching. It looks at the lessons learnt from Wild Seasons, and points out where the opportunities are as we move forward. The report is available to download here.