Community secures ‘historic’ buyout to expand nature reserve

Residents of Langholm, in Dumfries and Galloway, have managed to raise £2.2m to purchase 5,300 acres of Langholm Moor.

Community secures ‘historic’ buyout to expand nature reserve iStock

The largest community buyout in the south of Scotland is going ahead after members secured enough funding to expand their nature reserve.

The town of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway has managed to raise £2.2m to purchase 5,300 acres of Langholm Moor and three properties from land management company Buccleuch.

Members of the community group, a charity called the Langholm Initiative, said the result has been “historic”.

The buyout will double the size of its Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, which was created last year after the group raised £3.8m to buy 5,200 acres of land and six residential properties as part of the first stage of the community buyout.

Success for the charity’s second stage was only confirmed as the deadline for funding on July 31 was reached.

Margaret Pool, trustee of the Langholm Initiative, said: “The generosity of so many people locally, nationally and worldwide has been amazing.

“Our heartfelt thanks go to every donor, supporter and volunteer who helped us overcome what so often felt like impossible odds.

“This is a historic result for our community now, and for future generations.

“We also hope our story will inspire other community-led nature recovery projects across Scotland and beyond.

“We know that communities can be powerful forces for positive change.”

Almost 3,000 people have donated to the crowdfunder in total since it launched nine months ago.

In the closing days, thousands of pounds poured into the pot, including significant donations of £300,000 from Alex Gerko, founder of algorithmic trading firm XTX Markets, £100,000 from Anne Reece of the Reece Foundation, and £50,000 from the John Muir Trust.

Buccleuch has supported the community bid, agreeing with the Langholm Initiative a fixed purchase price in 2019 and extending purchase deadlines to give more time for fundraising.

It is understood the buyout will be legally finalised between the community and Buccleuch over the coming months.

Jenny Barlow, Tarras Valley Nature Reserve’s estate manager, said she is grateful to everyone who has donated.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” she said, “but the generosity and unwavering support of so many wonderful donors and volunteers have got us over the line in the nick of time.”

On the reserve, important peatlands and ancient woods are to be restored, native woodlands expanded, and a haven ensured for wildlife including rare hen harriers.

The community said six new jobs have already been created for the work ahead.

Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch, said: “We are absolutely delighted for the Langholm Initiative and have been pleased to work with them and support their project every step of the way.

“When Buccleuch launched its community consultation on the proposed sale of 25,000 acres of land on Langholm Moor, we couldn’t know what the community’s aspirations would be.

“To see the Langholm Initiative grow the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve from the initial 5,200 acres to almost double that is fantastic, and we look forward to seeing the evolution of the project over the coming years.”

In June, the Scottish Land Fund awarded the Langholm Initiative £1m towards the buyout, while an anonymous private donor made a donation of £500,000 at the appeal’s launch last October.

Other charities that have backed the buyout include Borders Forest Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life, and the Woodland Trust.

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