A LAST-MINUTE fundraising drive to save the Langholm Moor buy-out is being backed by Joan McAlpine, South Scotland MSP.
The community buy-out faces a funding deadline at the end of this month and the SNP MSP is reaching out to nature lovers to chip in to help get the project over the line.
The Langholm Initiative has raised £3.6m of a £4.2m target to buy the site.
But it has only 10 days left to find the remaining funds or it will have to return £1m already pledged by the Scottish Land Fund.
Ms McAlpine’s intervention follows a meeting with the group which hopes to create a community-owned nature reserve to protect wildlife, tackle climate change and support community regeneration.
It hopes the project will inspire other similar initiatives in the UK and still believes its target is within reach.
The team has two purchase options agreed with Buccleuch: one at 10,500 acres, jointly valued at £6.4m; and the other option at 5,200 acres, jointly valued at £4.2m.
The second option is now within touching distance and leaves the Langholm Initiative with £600,000 to find before the deadline.
The deal would enable the group to deliver all its original objectives, like the preservation of native woodland, peatland restoration, a reserve for hen harriers and new renewable energy schemes, while continuing to develop revenue streams to secure long-term sustainability.
Ms McAlpine said: “It was great to chat with Kevin Cumming, project manager, and the team and hear how close they have come to realising their dream of creating a nature reserve on the moor.
“They’ve done an incredible job so far, raising well over £3m from the Scottish Land Fund, South of Scotland Enterprise and the John Muir Trust and other donations, large and small.
“They are within touching distance of their target and the thing they don’t want to do is give back all that money and start from scratch when everyone has worked so hard to reach their goal.
“This is a fantastic project which has caught the imaginations of groups from all over Scotland and beyond.
A donation from children at a primary school in Glasgow has led to a new relationship with the primary schools in Eskdale.
“These are the kind of thing which make community projects, like this, so valuable.
“Times are hard but if there are any nature lovers, conservation groups or birdwatchers with some cash to spare, please consider giving a little to this group to help it reach its target before time runs out.”
Margaret Pool, who chairs the Langholm Initiative, said: “We appreciate Joan’s enthusiasm and support for the community and her call for donations to the buy-out to help get us over the line by the deadline.
“Our thanks, as ever, to everyone who has supported this opportunity to bring a culturally-important part of Langholm Moor into community ownership and create a nature reserve to protect wildlife, tackle climate change and support regeneration.”
Discussions with Buccleuch are ongoing.
A spokesperson for Buccleuch added: “We’ve had really constructive dialogue with the Langholm Initiative about various possible scenarios to enable the group to fulfil its ambitions and these discussions are continuing with a view to securing a successful outcome.”