A CROWDFUNDING campaign to buy part of Langholm Moor and transform it into a nature reserve is being launched today.
The £3m crowdfunder has got off to an excellent start with a donation of £100,000 from the John Muir Trust.
The new Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, if a deal is agreed with landowner Buccleuch, will, 10,500 acres, be southern Scotland’s largest community land buy-out.
The ambitious plan by charity the Langholm Initiative to create the reserve by buying the wildlife-rich and culturally-important land has received widespread support because of its positive goals of tackling climate change, boosting nature restoration and supporting community regeneration.
The crowdfunder is on Go Fund Me at www.gofundme.com/langholm-moor-buyout and will need to raise just over half of the £6m valuation on the land.
Kevin Cumming, the Initiative’s 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 restoring 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 public’s help. 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.”
The people of this small town, nestled in the beautiful and dramatic Southern Uplands, have a deep connection to the land which has never been sold previously.
The community wants to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have control over their own future.
“It is hoped that through community land ownership and creating a nature reserve, a foundation can be laid for regeneration, supporting eco-tourism and bringing visitors.
Mike Daniels of the John Muir Trust said: “We are extremely excited about this project. Its ambition and vision is what has attracted us to it and 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’re delighted to support this inspiring initiative.
“We call on other organisations to follow our lead and support the buy-out.”
Kevin added: “We are extremely grateful to the John Muir Trust for their support. It is the highest compliment for them to offer a significant financial pledge and demonstrates great confidence in the project.”
Much of the support for this project has centred on the ambition of a community to place the environment at the heart of its regeneration.
A summary of the Langholm Initiative’s business plan is available at www.langholminitiative.org.uk
Other plans include developing small-scale, modern business units in existing disused buildings, appropriate renewable energy and responsible nature-based tourism.
Kevin said: “The community’s regeneration is a vital part of this process. The land holds huge cultural value to residents, many of whom are excited about the possible community ownership of it.”
A number of other national organisations have offered support to the project.
The Langholm Initiative has also applied to the Scottish Land Fund for £3m towards the purchase, with the other half to be generated through the crowdfunding appeal.
Buccleuch announced its decision to sell about 25,000 acres of its Borders Estate last year.
The Initiative was formed in 1994 and was one of southern Scotland’s earliest development trusts.
It enables projects to make a real, lasting difference to the area and the lives of the people who live here.
To support the appeal visit www.langholminitiative.org.uk