Community 'achieves the impossible' and buys land from Duke of Buccleuch

A community has “achieved the impossible” and bought over a large piece of land from one of Scotland’s biggest landowners.

The legal transfer of the land between The Duke of Buccleuch and the community at Langholm has now completed, with a new nature reserve to be created on the former grouse moor. PIC: Contributed.
The legal transfer of the land between The Duke of Buccleuch and the community at Langholm has now completed, with a new nature reserve to be created on the former grouse moor. PIC: Contributed.

The 5,200 acres of moorland has been sold by the Duke of Buccleuch to a community-led charity in Langholm, which will now create a nature reserve on the site.

The legal transfer of the property has now completed after the Langholm Initiative raised more than £2.8m for the purchase with just hours to spare.

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In addition, the Scottish Land Fund, run by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund, gave £1m to the cause.

Around 5,300 acres of Langholm Moor will now be turned into a nature reserve after the surrounding community bought over the land. PIC: Contributed/Tom Hutton.

Margaret Pool, chair of the Langholm Initiative, said: “Together we’ve achieved something which once seemed impossible, and we can celebrate as a new era begins for this special land with which our community has such a deep and long-standing connection.

“Our sincere, heartfelt thanks go to so many people for making this historic moment for Langholm happen – including the generous donors and tireless volunteers, and to Buccleuch for being so supportive and positive in their approach.”

The Tarras Valley Nature Reserve will now work to restore peatland and ancient woodland on the former grouse moor.

New native woodland will be planted with hope to attract rare hen harriers, among the most persecuted birds in the UK, to the land.

Two new members of staff will oversee the nature restoration project with tourism opportunities also being developed.

The Langholm Initiative is also in talks with Buccleuch, the company that manages the Duke’s business interests, over the potential purchase of another 5,300 acres.

Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch, said: “To have concluded the sale to the community is a fantastic achievement, and a great example of what can be achieved when communities and businesses like Buccleuch engage openly with one another and work to a common goal. This was achieved by goodwill and working together, following voluntarily all the relevant guidance and protocols.

“We look forward to seeing the plans for the area coming to life over the coming months, and wish the Langholm Initiative all the very best with this.”

It is hoped that the land purchase will show how nature can be used as a tool for regeneration and job creation.

Those who helped fund the project included South of Scotland Enterprise, John Muir Trust, the Carman Family Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Bently Foundation.

Borders Forest Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Trees for Life also contributed.

Around 4,000 people from around the world also supported a crowdfunder with £200,000 raised.

The Woodland Trust contributed the final £200,000 and took the fundraiser over the line with just 48 hours to go until deadline.

The Duke of Buccleuch, a hereditary title dating to 1663, was once the UK’s largest private landowner, and the family still holds 217,000 acres of moorland, farms and forestry, and a £250m urban property portfolio.

The family’s homes include Drumlanrig castle, an estate dating back to the reign of Robert the Bruce, and the Boughton estate in Northamptonshire.

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