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The community-led nature preservation project that is set to make history in Scotland

© Tom Hutton

In order to overcome a £400,000 shortfall in its final two weeks, South Scotland’s largest community buyout is battling the odds and asking people to keep contributing to a public crowdfunder in order to change the course of history for nature preservation in the U.K.

The town of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway has until 31 July to raise £2.2m to purchase 5,300 acres of Langholm Moor from Buccleuch.

If successful, the community-owned Tarras Valley Nature Reserve will more than double in area, assisting in the response to the environmental and climatic emergencies while fostering community redevelopment.

Thanks to a surge of donations, the public crowdfunder, which has received support from thousands of individuals worldwide, has now surpassed its £200,000 goal. But as the ambitious buyout, orchestrated by the nearby Langholm Initiative charity, nears its conclusion, the public is being urged to continue contributing.

“We need one last big push to help make history happen and get us over the line. We are urging major donors to come forward, and asking people to keep donating to our crowdfunder. Every pound gets us one step closer,” said Jenny Barlow, Tarras Valley Nature Reserve’s Estate Manager.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase this land for people and planet. It really is now or never for one of the UK’s largest community-led nature recovery projects to double its scale.”

The Scottish Land Fund granted the Langholm Initiative charity £1 million last month to help with the buyout, and the public crowdfunder increased its objective from £150,000 to £200,000 to help with the acquisition, both of which have significantly helped the fundraising effort.

The first phase of the community buyout was a success, and the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve was created the previous year. In order to purchase 5,200 acres and six residential houses from Buccleuch in March 2021, the community defied the odds and raised £3.8 million.

The reserve is being used to restore globally significant peatlands and ancient woods, develop native woodlands, and provide a safe home for animals like the hen harrier, short-eared owl, and merlin.

The project’s primary goals are community regeneration and job creation using a natural method. Although Langholm previously had a robust textile industry, it is now in decline.

The Borders Forest Trust, John Muir Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life, and the Woodland Trust are prominent charities that support the buyout. Buccleuch has agreed to a set purchase price in 2019 and extended fundraising deadlines in support of the community bid.

The public can get involved in the crowdfunder by visiting the Langholm Moor Appeal to find out more.