A recent independent study undertaken by economists Mackay Consultants, of the proposed SW Scotland UNESCO biosphere reserve, concluded that the value of a Biosphere Reserve in the region was £56m (base case) – £80m (optimistic case) over 10 years and that it “would result in very substantial economic, environmental and other benefits for the proposed area”1.
These benefits include: globally respected quality assurance, additional funding and investment, joint management benefits and income generation, synergies from knowledge sharing and collaboration, marketing opportunities for sustainably produced products and sustainably managed environments, conflict and resource management resolution, added value to existing projects and international networks through which to share experiences and develop partnerships.
Certainly North Devon Biosphere has reported increased inward long-term investment as a result of the enhanced profile for the area, whilst Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere, amongst others, has noted that it has become easier to attract educated, skilled workers and entrepreneurs. There is also evidence for increased local sourcing of products by large corporates and utility companies eager to improve their environmental/CSR credentials. Elsewhere, some Biospheres report increased opportunities for social enterprises to flourish, and in this region possibilities might include creating markets for micro renewables, establishing local food produce and service networks, and developing opportunities to preserve traditional rural skills and crafts.