£1m ‘game-changer’ could see community in south Scotland realise wildest dreams for land buyout

The wildest dreams of a community in southern Scotland have come a step closer after a “game-changing” donation of £1 million.

The Scottish Land Fund has awarded the funds to the Langholm Initiative charity, which is spearheading the region’s biggest ever community buyout.

The town of Langholm, in Dumfriesshire, is aiming to raise £2.2m by the end of July to purchase 5,300 acres of Langholm Moor from landowner Buccleuch Estates.

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Securing the land would allow the new community-owned Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, set up following acquisition of an initial parcel of land sold by the estate, to double in size.

It would also allow the community to put into action ambitious plans for tackling the nature and climate emergencies while boosting community regeneration.

The group is delighted with the award and now very hopeful the remaining cash can be raised in time, after the seller extended the deadline for a deal.

“With the clock seriously ticking if we are to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime community purchase, this award from the Scottish Land Fund is a major game-changer,” said Jenny Barlow, estate manager for Tarras Valley Nature Reserve.

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Jenny Barlow is estate manager for the community-owned Tarras Valley Nature Reserve

“It has really turned the tide in our favour, and we are hugely grateful.

“Thanks to other generous donations, including from thousands of people from all over the world to our public crowdfunder, we are now just £450,000 shy of reaching our overall target.

“We’re going to work tirelessly to make this happen.”

Tarras Valley Nature Reserve was established last year, following the successful first stage of the community buyout.

Merlins are among the wildlife species at the new Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, in Dumfries and Galloway, which has been set up after a successful community buyout. Picture: Steve Taylor

The group successfully raised £3.8m to buy 5,200 acres and six residential properties from Buccleuch in March 2021.

On the reserve, globally important peatlands and ancient woods are being restored, native woodlands established and habitat improved for wildlife including hen harrier, short-eared owl and merlin.

Langholm was once a thriving textile centre, but the industry has declined in recent years.

Community regeneration and creation of new jobs through a nature-based approach is a central aim of the project.

Leading charities backing the buyout include Borders Forest Trust, John Muir Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life, and the Woodland Trust.

The crowd-funder can be supported at bit.ly/LangholmMoorAppeal.

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