Southern Scotland’s biggest community land buyout launches crowdfunder to create new nature reserve

The initiative which hopes to create a new nature reserve in Dumfries and Galloway, is crowdfunding to try and raise £3 million to help purchase the land.

The ambitious plan by charity The Langholm Initiative, to create the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, by purchasing the wildlife-rich and culturally important land from Buccleuch Estates, received a huge boost when the John Muir Trust announced it is donating £100,000 to kickstart the appeal.

The project has received widespread support due to its goals of tackling climate change, boosting nature restoration and supporting community regeneration.

The charity, formed in 1994, is one of south Scotland’s oldest development trusts and its GoFundMe crowdfunder aims to raise just over half of the £6 million valuation on the land. 

Its has applied to the Scottish Land Fund for the other £3 million towards the purchase.

Kevin Cumming, the Langholm Initiative’s project leader, said: “Our community plans here have international significance. At a time of climate emergency, we are committing to undertake direct climate action – including restoration of globally precious peatlands and ancient woodlands, alongside the creation of new native woodlands.

“Langholm Moor is home to a host of iconic wildlife such as black grouse, short eared owls and merlin, and is a stronghold for hen harriers – the most persecuted bird of prey in the UK.

“At this critical stage we are asking for the help of the public. We know it’s a big ask at a time like this – but if people can support us by donating to this project we will be ensuring a more positive future for our children.”

The Langholm Initiative hopes to raise £3 million through its crowdfunder to create the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve. (Tom Hutton)

Langholm is nestled in the Southern Uplands and its land has never been sold before. It was once a thriving textile centre but it has seen its industry decline in recent years.

Buccleuch Estates announced its decision to sell about 25,000 acres of its Borders Estate last year.

Locals believe that through community land ownership and the creation of a nature reserve, a foundation can be laid for local regeneration supporting eco-tourism and bringing visitors to the area.

The John Muir Trust has said it is “delighted” to support this “inspiring initiative” and is calling on others to follow their lead.

Mike Daniels, Head of Land Management at the John Muir Trust, said: “We are extremely excited about this project. Its ambition and vision is what has attracted us to it, and [why] we [have pledged] £100K to support the community’s purchase of the land.

“The protection and restoration of wild places and the regeneration of rural communities goes hand in hand and we are delighted to support this inspiring initiative. We call on other organisations to follow our lead and support the Langholm Initiative.”

Much of the support for the campaign to help purchase 10,500 acres of Langholm Moor, which equates to around 5,600 football pitches, has centred on the ambition of a community to place the environment at the heart of its regeneration.

While only £40,000 has currently been raised on the GoFundMe, The Langholm Initiative are confident they will raise the full purchase price by the end of October this year.

Mr Cumming added: “The community’s regeneration is a vital part of this process. The land holds huge cultural value to local people, many of whom are excited about the possible community ownership of it.”

The project has received widespread support from other organisations such as RSPB Scotland, The Woodland Trust, Borders Forest Trust and The Revive Coalition.

Other plans include the development of small-scale modern business units in existing disused buildings, appropriate renewable energy and responsible nature-based tourism.

To support the appeal, you can visit the Langholm Initiative website here.

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