Crowdfunding campaign to create new nature reserve

Plan aims to purchase wildlife-rich land from Buccleuch Estates in Dumfries and Galloway.

A £3m crowdfunding campaign has been launched to create a vast new nature reserve.

The plan by the Langholm Initiative charity aims to purchase wildlife-rich and culturally important land from Buccleuch Estates in Dumfries and Galloway.

It has received £100,000 from the John Muir Trust to kickstart the appeal.

Kevin Cumming, project leader, said: “Our community plans here have international significance.

“At a time of climate emergency, we are committing to undertake direct climate action – including restoration of globally precious peatlands and ancient woodlands, alongside the creation of new native woodlands.

“Langholm Moor is home to a host of iconic wildlife such as black grouse, short-eared owls and merlin, and is a stronghold for hen harriers – the most persecuted bird of prey in the UK.

“At this critical stage we are asking for the help of the public. We know it’s a big ask at a time like this – but if people can support us by donating to this project we will be ensuring a more positive future for our children.”

Langholm, a once-thriving textile centre, has seen this industry decline in recent years.

It is hoped that through community land ownership and the creation of a nature reserve, a foundation can be laid for local regeneration.

This would be with the aim of supporting eco-tourism and bringing visitors to the area.

Mike Daniels, from the John Muir Trust, said: “We are extremely excited about this project. Its ambition and vision is what has attracted us to it and today we are pledging £100,000 to support the community’s purchase of the land.

“The protection and restoration of wild places and the regeneration of rural communities goes hand in hand and we are delighted to support this inspiring initiative.

“We call on other organisations to follow our lead and support the Langholm Initiative.”

Buccleuch Estates announced its decision to sell about 25,000 acres of its Borders Estate last year.

The land is jointly valued at just over £6m and the charity has also applied to the Scottish Land Fund for £3m towards the purchase.

The Langholm Initiative was formed in 1994, as one of south Scotland’s earliest development trusts.

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