Dumfries and Galloway is a large region of about 150,000 people, and one of Scotland's best kept secrets. This also applies to the amazing work D&G orgs and the council have done, and are doing, to combat climate change.
Despite the progress, commitments, and at times pioneering work, D&G is rarely on the climate action radar. For example, there is no climate beacon in the region - in fact, the most Southerly climate beacon is based in Midlothian!
With that in mind, we want to draw attention to some of the progress made in the region.
1. Dumfries and Galloway Council have pledged to be net-zero by 2025.
In June 2019, the council declared a climate emergency. This pledge is incredibly ambitious - one of the most ambitious in Scotland - and the council have set out a 12 point plan to reach this target. They've also appointed an Environment Champion, achieved the UN Carbon Literacy Training Award in Sept 2020 (the first non-metropolitan Scottish Local Authority to do so) and have made the following commitments:
Encourage understanding of how the way we live and work in the region impacts on climate change
Empower our communities and stakeholders to make significant changes to reduce emissions and adapt to a low carbon approach
Lead on the transition to cleaner and greener technologies
Promote and protect our region's natural environment
Contribute to a greener economy, maximising the region's green energy potential
2. Dumfries and Galloway is the "birthplace of renewables"
Windy Standard was the first onshore consented windfarm in Scotland. Robin Rigg was the first offshore windfarm in the UK. The Galloway Hydro Scheme was the first large-scale integrated hydro-electric complex to be built in the UK.
And we have the global headquarters of Natural Power, an independent consultant and service provider that only works on green energy projects, in Castle Douglas.
3. We have Scotland's First Biosphere.
We have the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, recognised internationally as a world-class environment for people and nature. The biosphere has an amazing array of landscapes, wildlife, and heritage and is working to manage them in the most sustainable way.
Our Biosphere will have its 10th anniversary in 2022 and is well-placed among its network of over 700 other biospheres worldwide. If you live in the area of Rhins of Galloway, you may want to look at the potential boundary expansion that the Biosphere is suggesting.
All Biospheres around the world share three 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.
4. We have Britain's largest Forest Park
Galloway Forest Park was established in 1947 and includes ancient woods, hills, water, and a lot of history. Some of the special wildlife that can be seen here include the endangered red squirrels and golden eagles. The Park includes Scotland's first Dark Sky Park (which was also 4th in the world, and established in 2009), which means that the skies are incredibly dark and light pollution is tightly controlled. Both of these designations mean that a lot of work is done to keep the area sustainable and well managed.
Not only that, but there is support building for a Galloway National Park, which would encompass these areas and further protect our natural and cultural assets.