A MASSIVE half-million pound grant has boosted the bid to buy Langholm Moor and put the project back on track.
One of Scotland’s largest community buyouts had appeared at risk in recent weeks but, thanks to the generous pledge by the Dunblane-based Carman Family Foundation, new hope has been injected into it.
The Langholm Initiative agreed to buy 10,500 acres, jointly valued at £6.4m from Buccleuch.
The project is likely to be Scotland’s biggest community buyout in land value to date and would create a vast nature reserve on the culturally-important land, tackle climate breakdown, boost nature restoration and support community regeneration.
The community faces a race against time after the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) awarded the Initiative £1m, a third of the amount applied for, on condition the purchase is completed by October 31.
This left the community just a few months to raise the remaining £5m.
Margaret Pool, Initiative chairwoman, said: “The Carman Family Foundation’s tremendous £500,000 support is a major boost and couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It really keeps the project on track. This kind of support makes all the difference and we’re hugely grateful.”
Bill Carman, a trustee of the foundation, said: “We’re delighted to be helping bring this special area into the ownership of people who take biodiversity, both flora and fauna, seriously.
“Langholm Moor deserves to be protected and enhanced. It’s crucial we all help the natural environment stabilise and re-establish and because it will act as an excellent example of how humans can work together in selfless communities.
“We think it is really important that the buyout succeeds and would urge all who read this to contribute as much as they can.”
Creating the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve would restore globally-important peatlands and ancient woods, plant and regenerate native woodlands along river valleys and protect open moorland for ground-nesting birds.
The land is a haven for wildlife, including merlin, black grouse and short-eared owls and is a stronghold for hen harriers, the UK’s most persecuted bird of prey. Public donations for the buyout have now reached £200,000, including through a crowdfunder at gofundme.com/langholm-moor-buyout.
This year’s Hen Harrier Day, held online this month and hosted by television presenters Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin, raised £10,000 towards the purchase. The John Muir Trust has donated £100,000.
The Initiative is working with South of Scotland Enterprise, seeking other major funders and urging people, who can help, to get in touch.
Kevin Cumming, project leader, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received, including the kind donations to our crowdfunder from some 2,000 people so far.
“We’ll exhaust every opportunity to seize this once-in-a-lifetime chance for the people of Langholm and for tackling the climate and nature crises.”
The Initiative is also asking the SLF to extend its deadline.
Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch, has also written to the SLF to express Buccleuch’s support for an extension, which would increase the prospects of a successful and workable outcome in the community buyout discussions.
The buyout is also supported by Borders Forest Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB
Scotland, Trees for Life and the Woodland Trust.
To find out more details and support the crowdfunder, visit langholminitiative.org.uk