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Dyfi Valley awarded UNESCO Biosphere status


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press release08/06/2009

Dyfi Valley awarded unique UN status

Ecodyfi Co-Chair Martin Ashby has welcomed UNESCO’s decision to re-register the Dyfi Valley as a member of a prestigious network. Environment Minister Jane Davidson announced today that the area has been recognised as Wales’ only UNESCO Biosphere.

The unique status means the area joins the likes of Uluru in Australia and Mount Olympus in Greece. There are 553 UNESCO Biosphere areas in the world, but the Dyfi is the only one in Wales and only the second in the whole of the UK.

A Biosphere is a special area in which people work to balance the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are nominated by national governments.

Ms Davidson said the award was a flagship project for Wales:
“This status is a great honour not only for the area but also for Wales. The Dyfi Valley now joins a world-class group of special places for both people and nature. It provides a valuable example of how communities can live in a sustainable way.
“It is my hope that this special status can bring new opportunities for the environment, local culture and provide truly sustainable economic development.”

Pete Frost, from the Countryside Council for Wales, who is also Wales' representative on the UNESCO UK Man and Biosphere Committee said:
“Being part of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves will raise the profile of the Dyfi Valley on the world stage. The elite status offers a golden opportunity to build a vibrant economy based on the area’s fantastic natural assets, while also safeguarding local culture.”

The Dyfi was first designated a Biosphere in the 1970s, but rule changes in the 1990s meant sites had to reapply under new criteria. Today’s decision means the whole of the Dyfi Valley, the area bounded from Aberystwyth, Llanbrynmair, Llanymawddwy, Corris Uchaf and Aberdyfi, will be part of a new Biosffer Dyfi Biosphere.

Allan Wynne Jones from the Dyfi Biosphere Partnership added:
“This is the beginning of a journey for the Dyfi valley. The benefits of Biospheres vary from one place to another, and over time. Over the next year the partnership will be working hard to help local people take advantage of this new opportunity. We hope residents will use the new status to get involved with local projects aimed at sustaining the local economy, environment and culture.
“Our overall aim is for the Dyfi Valley to be recognised and respected internationally and locally, not only for its natural beauty, heritage and wildlife, but also for its people’s efforts to make a positive contribution to a more sustainable world.”

Martin Ashby said that ecodyfi had been working towards this for a long time and believes that its projects and activities are in line with the aims of the Biosphere.
“So much of the local economy is connected with the quality of the environment around us”, he added.
“It is critical that landowners and the business community alike play a part in the Biosphere so that our towns, villages and surrounding countryside develop in ways that benefit our future quality of life and happiness.”

More information about the Dyfi Biosphere can be found at

Further information:
Andy Rowland, ecodyfi Manager: 01654 703965
Welsh Assembly Government: Leon Griffiths on 029 2089 8329 or Sharon Rogers on 029 2089 8665
Countryside Council for Wales: Meinir Wigley 01248 385500 or 07720 428644

Notes for editors:

What are UNESCO Biospheres?

There are 553 UNESCO Biosphere areas in the world, but the Dyfi is the only one in Wales.

A Biosphere Reserve is an area in which people work to balance the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are nominated by national governments and must fulfill three basic functions:

A conservation function - to preserve genetic resources, species, ecosystems and landscapes A development function - to foster sustainable economic and human development A logistic function - to support research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development

Organisations represented on the Dyfi Biosphere Partnership are Ceredigion County Council, Countryside Council for Wales, Cyngor Gwynedd, Ecodyfi, Environment Agency Wales, Farmers’ Union of Wales, Forestry Commission Wales, National Farmers Union Cymru, Powys County Council, RSPB Cymru, Snowdonia National Park Authority, Tourism Partnership Mid Wales, Welsh Assembly Government, Welsh Language Board.

Official Launch event:

Date: Monday 8th June
Time: 10.30 – 12.30. There will be an opportunity for media interviews at 11.30 am.
Also attending the event will be John Lloyd Jones, Chair of the Countryside Council for Wales and Andrew Bell, Chair of the UNESCO UK Man and the Biosphere Committee.
Location: Y Tabernacl, Machynlleth

Ecodyfi is the local regeneration organisation for the Dyfi Valley.