Town's bid to buy Langholm Moor from wealthy duke is hanging in the balance

A community’s ambitious bid to double the size of a vast new nature reserve in southern Scotland will go "right down to the wire”.

The town of Langholm in Dumfries-shire has until Sunday to raise £2.2 million to purchase 5300 acres of Langholm Moor from Buccleuch Estates.

If successful, the community, led by the Langholm Initiative charity, will be able to double the size of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve it created last year after raising £3.8m for an initial 5200 acres.

Last month, the Scottish Land Fund awarded the Langholm Initiative £1 million towards the second phase of the buyout. Meanwhile, a crowdfunder has hit nearly £230,000 after a late surge in donations.

But as the deadline for the deal approaches, talks remain ongoing with major funders to bridge a £380,000 shortfall.

A spokesman for the buyout said: "The second stage of this historic community land buyout, the biggest ever seen in South Scotland, is going right down to the wire.

"When we entered the final fortnight, we announced a potential £400,000 shortfall for our goal to raise £2.2m overall. But now, as we go into the final few days, our hopes are high that we may still get the buyout over the line and so double the size of Tarras Valley Nature Reserve.

"It's important to pay tribute and thank every single donor to our public crowdfunder, which has played such a key role. The crowdfunder hit its original target of £150,000 then it hit a stretch target of £200,000. Since then the donations have continued to pour in, with some £20,000 worth in the past two weeks or so.

The Duke of Buccleuch supports the planned buyout of part of his vast estate

"The generosity and enthusiastic support of thousands of people locally and worldwide really has been amazing. It's made such a difference because every pound counts, but also because it's sent such a signal to major donors that this remarkable and ambitious buyout is generating support from all over the world and from all walks of life, and is so worth supporting.

"It's a beacon of hope for tackling the nature and climate emergencies, and for community regeneration."

Langholm has seen decades of economic decline through the loss of traditional textile manufacturing. The Langholm Initiative, formed in 1994, was one of south Scotland's first development trusts.

Once dubbed an "impossible dream", the Langholm Initiative negotiated one of Scotland's biggest ever community buyouts with Buccleuch Estates, which comprises the business interests of the Duke of Buccleuch and family.

Time is running out to raise funds for the purchase of Langholm Moor

Thanks to its ambitious fundraising campaign, the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve was established last year. Globally important peatlands and ancient woods are being restored, native woodlands established, and a haven ensured for wildlife including hen harriers - the UK’s most persecuted bird of prey - short-eared owls and merlins while generating social and economic opportunities for local people.

Campaigners say doubling the reserve to 10,500 acres would further boost plans for tackling the nature and climate emergencies, and support community regeneration.

The spokesman added: “We're within touching distance of getting this historic buyout over the line."

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.

Buccleuch has supported the community bid, agreeing with The Langholm Initiative a fixed purchase price in 2019, extending fundraising deadlines.

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