The Langholm Initiative hopes to purchase 10,500 acres of land in the Borders.
Plans for a major new community-owned nature reserve have been given a boost thanks to a £1 million award from the Scottish Land Fund.
The Langholm Initiative hopes to purchase 10,500 acres of Langholm Moor in the Borders from current owners Buccleuch Estates, in what would be southern Scotland’s largest community buyout to date.
Rich in wildlife and cultural history, the land has been valued at £6m, and campaigners are now appealing for donations to raise the full amount before the Land Fund offer expires in October.
Langholm Initiative chair Margaret Pool said: “We very much appreciate the Scottish Land Fund’s £1m award. It’s well below the £3m we applied for, but we know these are difficult times. Because the award is time limited, we now have just months to raise the rest of the funds for the once-in-a lifetime purchase.”
Ms Pool continued: “Langholm Moor holds huge cultural significance to local people, and we’re working tirelessly to bring this land into community ownership – as part of a groundbreaking project to tackle climate change, to boost nature restoration, and to support community regeneration.”
Success would see the creation of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, with globally important peatlands and ancient woods restored, new native woodlands established, and a vital haven ensured for iconic wildlife – including much-persecuted hen harriers.
Fundraising for the project is being conducted via the charity’s Go Fund Me appeal page, which has raised £85,000 so far, with the John Muir Trust donating an additional £100,000.
Major funders are also being sought. Kevin Cumming, the Langholm Initiative’s project leader, said: “We’re keen to hear from people or organisations who can help us seize this unprecedented opportunity to create something truly special for our children and future generations.
“We’re also hugely grateful for the wonderful donations to our crowdfunder, which have shown such amazing support, and for the positive engagement from Buccleuch Estates.”
The project has gained the backing of leading charities including Borders Forest Trust, John Muir Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Trees for Life, and The Woodland Trust.