TWO ‘dream jobs’ have been taken up at the new Tarras Valley Nature Reserve in Langholm.
Angela Williams, who fills the development manager position, and Jenny Barlow, who has become the estate manager for the largest community buyout in southern Scotland, say they are thrilled to be involved.
The Langholm Initiative bought more than 5,000 acres of moorland and six properties from Buccleuch last year, with the goal of developing it into the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve for the community, environment and tourists.
For Angela and Jenny this has been something they have both watched over the last year with a keen interest, even before there were any job opportunities.
“It’s a dream job. I followed the buyout and then saw the advert and, living in Leeds, I just thought it’s worth the relocation,” said Jenny.
“It was definitely the same for me,” added Angela. “It’s really exciting and scary but a fantastic opportunity.”
Both are eager to get started and are looking at several areas which they can develop, including the land and community engagement.
“My role is to try to generate income from the assets we’ve bought as part of the buyout,” said Angela.
She worked as a development manager on the 17,000-acre Knoydart estate community buyout on the west coast of Scotland, one of the first in Scotland in 1999 and is looking to apply her experience to her new role.
“We want to be able to put the reserve on a sustainable footing for the future,” she said.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity and we’ll be looking at things like sustainable tourism, income from the properties, exploring options such as using them for office space, a bunkhouse or holiday lettings or even private, hopefully benefiting businesses as more people visit the area.”
Within these plans their objective is to also address climate change, ecological restoration and sustainability, creating a reserve which ‘the community can be proud of for years to come’.
Jenny has worked in a number of environmental roles in the UK, including with the Environment Agency on nature restoration schemes and for Leeds University on a sustainable construction project.
She said there was plenty to get involved in and expressed her appreciation of those who had made the first community buyout possible.
Her hope was even more people would get involved in a potential purchase of a further 5,000 acres.
“We want to work with the community to improve the natural assets we’ve got and it will be crucial in getting us that national nature reserve status, the ultimate goal,” she said.
“Once we’ve got that, and I think we meet many of the criteria, it will attract even more visitors, locally and from further afield, to engage with us and the land and its diverse habitats.”
The development of a management plan with the community will help them achieve this.
“My role will be to look at improving those habitats, ecological restoration and woodland elements, working with the community on managing these to gain that national nature reserve status,” she added.
“We want people to have access to all the wonderful habitats there are.”
The initiative is also due to appoint a project officer to inspire engagement in nature through volunteer programmes with locals and in schools as well as a digital skills project manager.