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Wester Ross site chosen to be part of first of its type UNESCO trail in Scotland

By Imogen James

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A WESTER Ross attraction showcasing the area's amazing natural heritage has been included in a world-first UNESCO trail bringing together some of Scotland's most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites

The Highland locations included are the North West Highlands Geopark and Wester Ross Biosphere.

The Scotland trail covers World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities.

There are 13 place-based destinations in the Scotland UNESCO trail, a digital trail aimed to show Scottish culture across the country in various forms including literature, science, history, nature and design.

Dr Laura Hamlet, North West Highlands Geopark manager said: “The North West Highlands is the most beautiful part of the UK, with an unrivaled landscape, outstanding wildlife and vibrant, living culture. Our rocks and landforms have formed over 3 billion years of Earth history and we are incredibly proud that UNESCO has awarded our region UNESCO Global Geopark status."

Natasha Hutchison, general manager at Wester Ross Biosphere, said: “The opportunity to highlight the work that our communities are doing to become more sustainable is worthy of international acknowledgement. We hope that our role within the UNESCO Trail will allow our visitors to understand our natural heritage and way of life, resulting in a richer, more meaningful experience for them, and our vibrant communities."

The trail is part of ambitions to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination. It encourages tourism all year round, sustainable travel choices, longer visits, and to explore more widely. In turn, this will contribute to the sustainability of communities surrounding the designated sites.

Scotland is the first place in the world to have a UNESCO trail. It was developed between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot and the National Trust for Scotland.

The project has received £360,000 funding from the Scottish Government in support of the strategy for sustainable recovery of Scottish tourism.

The trail was officially opened in Dundee by tourism minister Ivan McKee. He unveiled a new design commissioned for this project, designed by Jagoda Sadowska. The design will form a part of the Open Close tour which is a legacy of the trail.

Francesca Osowska, CEO of NatureScot and chair of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail Steering Group, said: “The Trail is a hugely exciting global first, inspiring visitors to Scotland to journey through its unique natural and cultural heritage. All the designations in the Trail have a distinctive story to tell and we hope that, whether people visit just one, or travel to all the sites, they will be wowed by what they see.

“Responsible tourism and greener travel are at the heart of our ambitions for the UNESCO Trail. This will lead to a more sustainable economy and will help to create better places for people to live and visit in every corner of Scotland. This is so essential as we work to tackle the nature loss and climate change crises and prepare to host COP26.”

More information can be found on the website.

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