New nature reserve could be created in community buyout

The Langholm Initiative said it is in advanced discussions with Buccleuch Estates.

New nature reserve could be created in community buyout Langholm Initiative

A community is hoping to create a nature reserve through a land buyout in Dumfries and Galloway.

The Langholm Initiative said it is in advanced discussions with Buccleuch Estates over plans to purchase around 10,500 acres, including nine residential properties, in Dumfries and Galloway.

The charity began investigating the possibility of community ownership after Buccleuch Estates announced its decision to sell 25,000 acres of Langholm Moor last year.

It hopes to create a Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, which would help with community regeneration, wildlife conservation and improving the environment, as well as developing outdoor tourism.

The Langholm Initiative’s project leader Kevin Cumming said: “This is one of the most important and forward-thinking community plans in the UK.

“We are in a climate emergency and the decisions we make now will have a massive impact on future generations.

“We have worked extremely hard over the past six months to get to this stage of the process.

“It has been a positive experience working with Buccleuch Estates and we are excited to try to get the buyout over the line.”

He added: “This project extends beyond just the local community due to its positive climate action.

“We raised £8000 in eight days through a crowdfunder to help us undertake our investigations into community ownership, these donations came from all over the world.

“It’s rare that we as individuals have the opportunity to make a difference on this scale and we are hopeful that people will support us.”

The community hopes to plant nearly 500 acres of native woodland, carry out peatland restoration work and develop modern business units and an eco-campsite.

Langholm, dubbed the Muckle Toon, is a former textile town also known for its annual Common Riding festival.

A joint valuation undertaken by independent valuers working for each of the parties estimates the value of the land to be just over £6m.

The initiative has applied to the Scottish Land Fund for £3m towards the purchase and has also approached the new South of Scotland Enterprise agency asking it to support the buyout.

It is hoped the remaining money will be found through a large-scale crowdfunding campaign, which is likely to start in May.

The Langholm Initiative is also pursuing other sources of funding to finance the purchase.

A Buccleuch spokesman said: “We have been working closely with the Langholm Initiative in relation to the potential sale of land, including areas of Langholm Moor, and these are progressing well.

“We hope we will reach a positive conclusion before the end of this year.”

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