Wester Ross, one of Scotland’s two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, has joined forces with other countries to develop an eco-tourism initiative that promotes the economic, environmental and societal wellbeing of the area.
Led by the University of the Highlands and Islands in cooperation with Karelia University of Applied Sciences in Finland, the three-year SHAPE project (Sustainable Heritage Areas: Partnerships for Ecotourism), forms an international network of sparsely populated, rural, protected areas that are rich in cultural and natural heritage.
The destinations meet and regularly convene to foster their network and share expertise. It offers Wester Ross, which became a Biosphere Reserve in 2016, the opportunity to exchange ideas, experiences and concerns with areas that face similar challenges.
“The Northern network is particularly useful because we have shared challenges and opportunities including large expanses of land, more difficult climates, young people leaving and in some regions reconciliation with indigenous people. So, we tackle these issues together. We don’t solve them all, but we get good examples of best practice from our friends and neighbours in these other biospheres which can be adapted and applied here.” Natasha Hutchinson, Wester Ross Coordinator.
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