We have the privilege of calling the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere the home of Raiders Gravel. The UNESCO Biosphere designation is recognition of the fantastic array of landscapes, wildlife, cultural heritage and learning opportunities that SW Scotland offers for communities, businesses and visitors. Find out more about the biosphere below, and how to respect its natural wonders.
What is a biosphere?
There are now more than 700 UNESCO Biospheres around the world, which have been awarded the designation based on their unique and precious natural environment. The UNESCO Biosphere title comes with some wonderful obligations: to get locals and visitors working together for the benefit of nature, and to centre sustainability in how we live, work and play.
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere was the first such designation in Scotland, recognising 5,268 km² of landscape, wildlife, and cultural heritage.
Within the Biosphere, the Galloway Forest Park is home to one of the world-class 7Stanes mountain biking centres, and now also to Raiders Gravel Galloway. Within its multi-sector programme, Raiders Gravel works to support green travel, eco-tourism and sustainable visitor attractions across south-west Scotland. And cycling – whether as a leisure pursuit, adrenaline adventure, or just a means to get to work – aligns perfectly with UNESCO Biosphere goals.
Raiders Gravel and the biosphere
Our partner Galloway Cycling Holidays are long-time subscribers to the Biosphere’s Proud Supporters scheme as well as Certification Mark holders, and Raiders Gravel will be one of the first special events with Proud Supporter status. Esther, Warren and their team have committed to safeguarding and promoting the natural environment of the Biosphere as well as contributing to the wellbeing of local communities and supporting their economic growth. By creating strong and enduring partnerships such as with Raiders Gravel, the Biosphere is growing a network of branded sustainable enterprises which will spread the twin philosophies of celebration and conservation, putting Galloway on the map as a place where #DestinationScotland and #LoveNature can beautifully collide.
Cyclists and the biosphere
For anyone spending time in this beautiful biosphere, we join our partners across the country in saying that Scotland is yours to enjoy, responsibly. Together we can make this the best possible place for people and nature by following the principles of ‘protect, respect, enjoy’ and abiding by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Take only memories – leave only footprints!
The main aim: leave no trace. Sometimes even footprints can be harmful, when there are too many of them. Respect where you are going, protect the beauty and fragile state of the wilderness around you.
It’s obvious, but don’t litter. We’ll provide you with waste disposal bins on course, and we’ll avoid giving you any single-use plastic products to honour our sustainability pledge and help you be as environmentally friendly as possible!
Noise is another “polluter”. Be mindful of the sensitive wildlife and tranquil community you’ll be cycling past.
4. While we’ll minimise traffic on the Raiders Gravel routes, it’s still worth noting that lanes and roads are made for all, including agricultural vehicles – and they have become much faster and bigger since the 50s! Listen and watch out, and let them pass safely.
5. In Galloway, people like to wave – to cyclists, too! Make sure to return the friendly gesture and who knows, maybe you’ll return home with some new mates.