Campaigners have joined forces with Scotland’s first UNESCO Biosphere to present a joint bid for Galloway to be declared the country’s newest National Park.

The Galloway National Park Association (GNPA) and Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere(GSABP) bid – just submitted to the Scottish Government – also has the support of key organisations including:

  • South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE)
  • Dumfries and Galloway Council
  • South Ayrshire Council
  • East Ayrshire Council.

The Scottish Government is committed to the creation of at least one new National Park by 2026 and called for submissions by 29 February, 2024.

GNPA and the Biosphere say the range of landscapes and habitats in the area covered by a Galloway National Park (which would also take in parts of Ayrshire) make it a “Scotland in miniature”.

It would be an opportunity to build on the success of the Biosphere, which has led the way in working with local communities to protect and enhance the environment and promote a sustainable economy.

Over the past seven years GNPA has worked hand in hand with the community and built up a membership of over 1,100.

Rob Lucas, GNPA Chair, said: “Galloway is extraordinary, its rolling hills, open moorlands, mountains, rivers, lochs, rugged coasts and seascapes mean it comes as close as any region realistically can to being a Scotland in miniature.

“National Park designation would make the most of these assets, protecting and enhancing them for our common future.

“The Biosphere is already showing the way ahead, and this joint bid would build on its success, allowing us to achieve so much more.

“Galloway is one Scotland’s poorest rural regions and National Park status would be the perfect way to boost prosperity for all by building a vibrant sustainable economy.

“We have held discussions with more than 2,000 people, have the support of businesses and the public, all three local councils and the SOSE development agency – all recognise the enormous benefits this would bring.”

The combined bid stresses that the Galloway would achieve the Scottish Government’s ambitions for a new National Park to:

  • play an important role in nature recovery 
  • assist in a just transition to net zero. 
  • be a model for the sort of sustainable development to which the whole country aspires.

A Galloway National Park would also achieve the ambitions set out in the South of Scotland Regional Economic Strategy for the region to be “Green, Fair and Flourishing”.

Galloway has taken significant strides forward through the internationally acclaimed work of the Biosphere, which covers 9,700km2 of land and sea.

Ed Forrest, Director of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, said“Our joint bid with the GNPA for a Galloway National Park builds on more than a decade of activity led by the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Partnership, which has always raised the need for better investment in the natural and cultural heritage of southwest Scotland, and made even more apparent the imperative of creating new socio-economic opportunities for our rural communities and businesses. 

“The collaborative, participatory ethos of a UNESCO Biosphere can help shape the direction of a new National Park and empower diverse stakeholders to address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. 

“We are pleased to be part of this exciting next stage in Galloway’s story, and look forward to further engagement with Scottish Government as proposals are considered over the next few months.”

NatureScot will carry out a detailed investigation of the bids over the summer – and their final recommendations to Scottish Ministers on which should be accepted will then be revealed.

The case for Galloway

There is strong public and business backing for it to be in Galloway, where there is an urgent need for regeneration, as it will bring lasting and widespread benefits by:

  • Making the most of our fabulous countryside and coastlines
  • Generating sustainable tourism
  • Creating business opportunities and jobs
  • Providing a marketing brand that will put us on a world stage
  • Attracting millions of pounds a year in investment and income
  • Making space for nature to recover and flourish as a key part of the area’s response to climate change
  • Improving health and wellbeing 
  • Offering opportunities for leisure and outdoor activities
  • Encouraging young people and families to remain or return to the region.

GNPA also believes that Galloway is the best place for Scotland’s next National Park because:

  • It has a unique mix of rolling farmland, low hills, wild moors, mountains and coastline – adding real diversity to Scotland’s family of National Parks.
  • Unlike some parts of Scotland there is ample opportunity, and need, for an increase in sustainable tourism.
  • It offers easy access to wonderful countryside for all ages and abilities, including economically deprived communities across south-west Scotland.
  • Extensive public and business support for a Galloway National Park shows that the region is ready and eager to seize the opportunities it would bring.


Note to Editors

  • For media information contact: Rob Lucas 07808 775901 or Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or at [email protected]

Party commitments 

Labour, the SNP, Green Party and the Liberal Democrats all support exploring the case for more National Parks with Galloway’s local MSP all supportive.

About the National Park proposal

A National Park for Galloway would promote and conserve some of Scotland’s most magnificent landscapes. It would attract visitors and allow a fragile rural economy to rebuild and thrive whilst helping Scotland tackle its biodiversity and climate change challenges.

Creating the park would go a long way to meeting the country’s commitment to protect at least 30% of its land for nature by 2030. The suggested boundaries would extend from Dumfries & Galloway into South Ayrshire and East Ayrshire. This area not only meets the criteria set out in the National Parks (Scotland) Act, but our research shows there is widespread enthusiasm for the idea.

Galloway National Park Association has had conversations with almost 2,000 people at over 100 meetings and events across the area. The resounding feedback is that Galloway wants a National Park.

  • Our questionnaire showed that 84% of respondents are in favour of a National Park.
  • The need for a National Park has increased since we started work – Galloway continues to fall further behind the rest of Scotland in economic terms.
  • Galloway’s dispersed rural population presents additional challenges but the long-term security of being a National Park is seen by many communities and businesses as a catalyst for their development.
  • COVID recovery and the current recession continues to have a huge impact on the area: National Park status will help to redress this.
  • The 2020 and 2021 holiday seasons showed a clear need for more resources to help manage tourists and ensure a high-quality experience for visitors and locals alike.
  • The national and international recognition that a National Park would bring to people to Galloway would help drive a green recovery across many sectors and attract people to live and work in the area.

About GNPA

Galloway National Park Association is a community-based group with trustees from across the region. We started work in 2017 and have over 1000 members, young supporters and business champions. Our objects are:

  • To promote the protection, conservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural assets of the area for public benefit.
  • To promote, undertake and publish research into issues affecting conservation and enjoyment of the natural and cultural heritage of the area and to identify how this may be furthered through the designation of a National Park.
  • To advance public education in and understanding of how a National Park could contribute to improving health and wellbeing through the enjoyment, understanding or enhancement of the area’s natural and cultural asset”.

Rob Lucas is the association’s Chair and Sandra McDowall the Vice Chair. Dame Barbara Kelly is the President. The association has been funded by membership and donations, and contributions from Scottish Campaign for National Parks, Dumfries & Galloway Council, South Ayrshire Council and East Ayrshire Council. 

About the Biosphere

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere has been recognised internationally as a world class environment for people and nature. 

The UNESCO Biosphere designation was awarded in 2012 in recognition of the fantastic array of landscapes, wildlife, cultural heritage and learning opportunities that SW Scotland offers for communities, businesses and visitors to experience and celebrate in a sustainable way.

The Biosphere designation brings no new rules or regulations but rather encourages us to work together to create a better future for people and nature.

A UNESCO Biosphere:

  • is a special designation awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to areas renowned for their exceptional environments which are valued by local people. They are places of cooperation and collaboration that show that a sustainable way of living is not only possible but already happening. 
  • has four main functions:
  • Conservation: promoting the preservation of wildlife, habitats and landscape.
  • Learning: supporting a better understanding of nature and global issues.
  • Development: fostering a sustainable economy and society.
  • Climate Change: supporting mitigation and adaptation in a changing global environment
  • is an area that demonstrates a way of living and working that benefits people and nature.

Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere covers almost 9,800km² of land and sea.  It was the first in Scotland and is part of a family of over 740 UNESCO Biospheres worldwide. 

The Biosphere is a Registered Scottish Charity (SC044137) led by a partnership board that has representation from communities, businesses, organisations and agencies with an interest in the region. 

For more information visit

or contact:

Ed Forrest, Biosphere Director 

[email protected]  or 07717 767 936

Tamara Fulcher, Communications & Marketing Lead Officer 

[email protected] or 07435 989 854

John Crawford, Partner, Halogen Communications 

[email protected] or 0131 202 0127

Fraser McGowan, Associate, Halogen Communications

[email protected] or07999 059089

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More information about the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere is available at or by email request to [email protected].  

Galloway National Park Association is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation registered with OSCR (SC047398) on 9th May 2017