Heroic and ambitious crowdfunder and voluntary sector help crucial to Langholm victory
One of Scotland’s largest and most ambitious community buy-outs is set to go ahead.
Following one of the most ambitious fundraising campaigns the country has ever seen, the community of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway reached an agreement with a maj9or landowner to buy more than 5,000 acres of land.
They got there in the nick of time –meeting the £3.8 million asking price from Buccleuch Estates just before the deadline expired.
It was revealed this week that it was a combination of heroic crowdfunding efforts and a last gasp intervention by environmental charity the Woodland Trust Scotland that got the deal over the line.
This paves the way for the creation of a huge new nature reserve to help tackle climate change, restore nature, and support community regeneration.
Discussions will continue over the remaining 5,300 acres of land the community has expressed an interest in buying.
Margaret Pool, chair of The Langholm Initiative, said: “This is an amazing result for Langholm which will live long in the memory. Our community has a strong cultural connection to this land, which has never been sold before, and securing it for generations to come means so much to so many. Huge thanks to Buccleuch for their positive engagement.”
The purchase – to be finalised by January 2021 – will lead to the creation of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, with globally important peatlands and ancient woods restored, native woodlands established, and a haven ensured for wildlife including rare hen harriers. The project will also support community regeneration, including through plans for the community to capitalise on new nature-based tourism opportunities.
The Langholm Initiative had until 31 October to raise the funds for a deal, to avoid the Scottish Land Fund withdrawing its £1m offer – a proviso that left the community with just months to raise millions of pounds. At times during the summer, the project appeared to be seriously at risk.
In the run-up to the deadline, Buccleuch Estates and The Langholm Initiative agreed a revised £3.8m price for the purchase.
During the final week, an extraordinary surge of more than £50,000 donations to the charity’s public crowdfunder – including £24,000 on one day alone – saw the appeal’s £200,000 target achieved. Nearly 4,000 people have supported the crowdfunding appeal since its launch on 7 May.
In the final 48 hours before the deadline, and with the community still some £150,000 short of the total funds needed, The Woodland Trust agreed to contribute £200,000 to the project – taking The Langholm Initiative over the line.
Also in the final weeks, £500,000 was secured from the Bently Foundation.
Carol Evans, Director of Woodland Trust Scotland, said: "We are thrilled to support The Langholm Initiative's exciting plans with a financial contribution and help deliver new native woods set in an appropriate mosaic of other habitats at Langholm. The world faces a climate emergency and a biodiversity crisis. This initiative is a fightback against both threats."
Other major funders of the buyout include South of Scotland Enterprise, John Muir Trust, Carman Family Foundation, and Garfield Weston Foundation.
And leading charities that have supported the buyout include Borders Forest Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Trees for Life.
The Langholm Initiative, formed in 1994 as one of south Scotland's first development trusts, facilitates projects making a lasting difference to the local area and people.