A NEW chief has been elected to lead the organisation overseeing the preservation and promotion of South Ayrshire’s wildlife and landscapes.

The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere has appointed local business owner Melanie Allen as the new chair of the organisation’s partnership board.

Ms Allen runs the Nithbank Country Estate at Thornhill, right at the heart of the biosphere.

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire was awarded the UNESCO Biosphere designation in 2012 in recognition of qualities that make it a world class environment for people and nature: a unique natural and cultural heritage and opportunities for sustainable development, learning and research.

The board’s outgoing chair, Dr Joan Mitchell, stood down at the AGM earlier this year after ten years’ service.

Commenting on her appointment, Melanie said, “I am delighted and honoured to be leading the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere into a new and exciting era.

“The success of the past 10 years is testament to the dedication and passion of Joan and our core team, for which I give my sincerest thanks.

“It is so empowering to be part of a network of like-minded people who inspire every day with stories about their connection to our world class environment.”The Biosphere is now of its time, we have a fantastic opportunity to champion the distinctiveness of our established UNESCO designation and take the lead on sustainability through collaboration and shared learning. Together, we will continue to work closely with partners to drive forward a new and dynamic strategy to benefit people and nature for years to come.”

The Biosphere team has been reaching out to people in the area to educate them on the importance of their surroundings, most recently in Girvan earlier this month, hosting a three-day pop-up information hub inside Stumpy Tower, and an evening event for local businesses at Girvan Community Garden.

Jenna Cains, the Biosphere’s community and education lead officer, was joined by Marie McNulty and Esther Tacke from the Biosphere’s business development team.

In between meeting the public they had the privilege of joining the judging panel for an art competition hosted by Girvan’s Community Council and Town Team, which invited pupils from local primary schools and Girvan Academy to create a poster for an anti-litter campaign.

Councillor Alec Clark, said: “South Ayrshire Council is committed to a long-term future of partnership working with Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere and I am thrilled that such a staunch advocate for our region has been elected as Chair of the Board.

“I was particularly delighted to hear Melanie at the AGM giving a commitment to pursue the embedding of UNESCO Biosphere principles as part of our schools’ curriculum.

“We are in a period of great opportunity – for bringing our communities together and working with a collective energy towards a stronger, sustainable economic future.

“Melanie’s cross-sector experience is exactly what this role demands.”