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Wester Ross Biosphere

Local partner: Wester Ross Biosphere

Designation: 2016

Area: 5000 km2

Population: 8000

Features and challenges: Wester Ross a sparsely-populated area in North West Scotland. It has rich natural and cultural heritage resources and a long history of tourism, but also limited infrastructure and significant access challenges. The area contains a diverse assemblage of cultural heritage with a rich history of traditional crofting (small-scale farming) and the highest proportion of Scottish Gaelic speakers on the Scottish mainland. Population decline is leading to loss of traditional land management skills and opportunities for sustainable food production. Due to the high quality of the natural environment, the economy is dominated by tourism, which creates tensions within communities.

Potential role of heritage narratives and expected outcomes: Local communities are supportive of sustainable development and wish to explore creative ways to diversify their incomes in ways that promote their local identity. The Biosphere promotes traditional institutions including crofting, use of the Gaelic language, outdoor recreation and heritage value of the extensive seashore. Narratives will reflect tensions between economic development from tourism and housing (e.g. second home ownership) and the wellbeing of local communities and nature conservation.

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