Page last updated at 00:29 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 01:29 UK

Forest pursues 'dark sky' status

Galloway Forest Park
A bid has been submitted to make the Galloway site the first dark sky park outside the US. Picture by James Hilder

A bid has been submitted to see a south of Scotland forest recognised as the first "dark sky park" outside the US.

Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) has made the application for the award to be given to the Galloway Forest Park.

The International Dark Sky Association (IDSA) has six weeks to decide whether the forest park meets the criteria to become a hotspot for stargazers.

At present there are only three "dark sky parks" in the world and all of them are located in the US.

The FCS head of tourism and the environment for Galloway, Keith Muir, said he was optimistic of success for the Scottish bid.

The criteria to make dark sky status is really tough so it will be a nervous time for all involved until the decision is made
Keith Muir
Forestry Commission Scotland

"We had light readings taken last winter with great results so we are hoping to match or improve on this," he said.

"If we get dark sky status I'm sure it will be a great boost for the area and a real draw for stargazers wanting to experience some of the clearest skies in Britain."

He said local support, as well as assistance from the Wigtownshire Astronomical Society and Glasgow University students, had "spurred on" the bid.

Two UK board members of the IDSA will visit the forest park to decide if the skies are dark enough to secure silver or possibly gold status.

Mr Muir said it would not be simple to gain the award.

"It isn't all plain sailing from here," he admitted.

"The criteria to make dark sky status is really tough so it will be a nervous time for all involved until the decision is made."

Surrounding areas

The three existing dark sky parks are all in the US - in Utah, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

If the Scottish application is successful then there is scope to potentially widen out the site to include the surrounding areas.

Discussions on that possibility have already been taking place with Dumfries and Galloway Council.

The IDSA meets on 14 and 15 November and a decision on whether Galloway Forest Park gets awarded the status should be made shortly after.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Forest's economic value analysed
11 Mar 09 |  South of Scotland
Six key species get woodland aid
21 Aug 08 |  South of Scotland
Growth proposal for forest park
04 May 06 |  South of Scotland

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific