THE Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere has won funding from the Blackface Breeder’s Association.

It comes after they launched their wool gathering initiative to promote the versatility of local wool.

Scotland’s first Biosphere was designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2012 and covers more than 5,200km² of the south-west region, including vast landscapes of hill grazing where Blackface sheep are the dominant breed.

Use of Blackface wool in clothing has been in decline since the trend towards cheap manmade materials overtook the historic appreciation for hardwearing woollen garments that are locally made.

As the impacts of our global climate crisis become more acute, suppliers and consumers are seeking creative ideas to make the systems that produce our food, fibre and fuel much more robust.

The biosphere’s remit as a UNESCO designation is to promote sustainability in enterprise alongside environmental education and research, and to test solutions to some of the most critical challenges of our time.

With the funding that the breeders’ association provides, the Biosphere’s plans can now be progressed.

Melanie Allen, Chair of Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere’s Partnership Board, said: “This is an extremely exciting initiative for us, as it encompasses what is truly special about the remit of a UNESCO Biosphere.

“The Wool Gathering brings together innovation through partnership-working, combining creativity with enterprise to develop our circular economy.

“It is fantastic to see the Biosphere team collaborating with a network of industry experts to embark on this new journey to identify gaps in the market for Blackface sheep wool products.”

Melanie continued: “We are delighted that the Blackface Sheep Breeders’ Association will be part of that journey and we very much value their expertise and support.

“The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Board and I are looking forward, with interest to see how this pioneering initiative develops.”