Sixteen community groups across Scotland are to share more than £3.6m for projects to take moorland back into their ownership.
Trusts and companies have split £3,669,762 from the Scottish Land Fund which will be used to buy land and properties to put to local use.
Among the groups awarded cash is the Langholm Initiative in Dumfries and Galloway, which wants to buy 10,500 acres of land and has received £1m towards doing so.
It hopes to turn the land into a community-owned nature reserve with peatland restoration, ancient woodland regeneration and protection for breeding hen harriers.
Margaret Pool, the initiative’s chairwoman, said: “Although this is well below the £3m we applied for, we recognise these are difficult times.
“As the award is time limited, giving us only until October this year to raise the rest of the money, we face the challenging task of raising the rest of the funds required to complete the once-in-a-lifetime community purchase.
“But Langholm Moor holds huge cultural significance to the people of Langholm, and we’re working tirelessly to bring this part of the moor into community ownership as part of a ground-breaking project to tackle climate change, boost nature restoration and support community regeneration.
“We’re urging people to support our crowdfunding appeal, and we’re also investigating other sources of finance as we work positively with Buccleuch Estates to allow the community purchase to take place.”
Elsewhere, the Newcastleton and District Community Trust has been awarded £850,000 to take ownership of 750 acres of land on the Tarras Water and Holmhill Estate from Buccleuch Estates.
Devastating floods hit the village in February and controlling the land will allow development plans for improved public access and flood prevention.
Steve Hartley, chairman of the trust, said: “The last 12 months has seen a mammoth amount of work undertaken by many people to get us to where we are today, the culmination of all that work results in being awarded the capital to purchase land adjacent to our village.
“Community ownership of this land, much of it still used today as it was over 225 years ago, now gives us all a bigger, brighter, sustainable future.
“This will continue to include farming, but the community also wants to develop new leisure and renewable sectors spreading the benefits of community ownership to everyone who lives here.
“We would also like to thank the Scottish Land Fund for believing in our vision and awarding the funds to secure this land, and to Buccleuch for their constructive and proactive approach as well as their patience in allowing the community time to prepare our bid, working with us to overcome the challenges presented and to go the extra mile when we asked them to.
“We cannot express what owning the Holm Hill means to us all, to us it is priceless.”
Other projects receiving funding include the Ballantrae Trust (£262,493), the Cliftonville and Coatdyke Community Group (£190,690), and Friends of Dundonald Castle (£29,000).
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