The Isle of Wight has become the UK's latest UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The status has been awarded to the island by the UN's Man and Biosphere Co-Ordinating Council, making it only the third place in England to do so and the sixth in the UK.
Becoming an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve means the Isle of Wight is now recognised as one of the best places in the world to explore the sustainable way people interact with their natural environment.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are unique areas of environmental significance in which communities strive to work hand in hand, innovatively and responsibly to protect and support the local environment and the world we all live in.
This year’s Isle of Wight Mardi Gras Parade in Ryde will be in celebration of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with over 30 schools, community organisations and off-Island carnival companies joining the New Carnival Company at 3pm on 29 June.
The Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership worked on the application for UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status (on behalf of the British Government) for 3 years to ensuring the Island is recognised for the way people and nature coexist.
Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, says it's fantastic news for the future of the island as a whole:
"I am delighted that the Isle of Wight has achieved this internationally-recognised status. Gaining this award is part of the agenda to appreciate and celebrate our landscape, for our quality of life and our aspirations as an island.
"We need to celebrate our unique and beautiful landscape and this award is recognition of the way we do that. We must continue to respect our landscape and preserve it for future generations.
"I congratulate all those involved in securing this status for the Island."
Dave Stewart, Isle of Wight Council Leader said:
"In the Isle of Wight Council we know that the unique landscapes, coast and wildlife of the Island bring people here not just as tourists, but also to live, work and do business.
"We believe that the key to economic success is living and working sustainably on our island, and we are very proud of the new Biosphere Reserve status and recognition given today by UNESCO."
Will Myles, Managing Director at Visit Isle of Wight said:
"This award is incredible, and a testament to the hard work that the Isle of Wight AONB Partnership have done – and continue to do.
"The Island’s hundreds of thousands of visitors recognise its unique qualities and to achieve the status of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is something that will most certainly have a positive impact on our visitor economy."
(Pictures credited to Visit Isle of Wight)