Environment Minister Jane Davidson has announced that the Dyfi Valley has been officially recognised as a 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 only the second one 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:
“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.”
This is the beginning of a journey for the Dyfi valley. The benefits of Biospheres vary from one place to another, and over time.