Langholm Moor community buyout officially completed

Press release from the Langholm Initiative (26th March 2021)

South of Scotland’s biggest community buyout completes

The South of Scotland’s largest community buyout has been legally completed following one of the most ambitious community fundraising campaigns ever seen and paving the way for the creation of a vast new nature reserve in Dumfries and Galloway.

The landmark agreement of £3.8 million for 5,200 acres of land and six residential properties was reached between The Langholm Initiative charity and Buccleuch last October, after the community of Langholm’s six-month fundraising drive reached its target in the final two days.

With the transfer of ownership finalised, the community now owns the land for the first time in its history. Work is to begin immediately on creating the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve to help tackle climate breakdown, restore nature, and support community regeneration.

[Langholm Moor. Photo by David Lintern]

Margaret Pool, Chair of The Langholm Initiative, said: “Together we’ve achieved something which once seemed impossible, and today we can celebrate as a new era begins for this special land with which our community has such a deep and long-standing connection.

Our sincere, heartfelt thanks go to so many people for making this historic moment for Langholm happen – including the generous donors and tireless volunteers, and to Buccleuch for being so supportive and positive in their approach.” 

Benny Higgins, Executive Chairman of Buccleuch, said: “To have concluded the sale to the community is a fantastic achievement, and a great example of what can be achieved when communities and businesses like Buccleuch engage openly with one another and work to a common goal. This was achieved by goodwill and working together, following voluntarily all the relevant guidance and protocols.

We look forward to seeing the plans for the area coming to life over the coming months, and wish The Langholm Initiative all the very best with this.

Buccleuch has been reducing the footprint of its landholdings in the last decade and, having sold approximately 30,000 acres of land in this period to farmers and community organisations, we will continue to reinvest revenue from land sales into a variety of business projects across the farming, forestry, renewable energy, and leisure and hospitality sectors.

The Langholm Initiative has set up Tarras Valley Nature Reserve for the day-to-day running of the ambitious new venture, and is currently recruiting two new members of staff who will oversee the landscape-scale nature-restoration project.

Globally important peatlands and ancient woods will be restored, native woodlands established, and a haven ensured for wildlife including rare hen harriers, the UK’s most persecuted bird of prey. Plans for community regeneration include new nature-based tourism opportunities.

Discussions are continuing between The Langholm Initiative and Buccleuch over another 5,300 acres of land the community wishes to buy, and which could double the size of the new nature reserve.

After the launch of the community’s fundraising drive last May, The Langholm Initiative had until 31 October to raise the funds for the deal, to avoid the withdrawal of a £1m offer from the Scottish Land Fund. At times the project appeared to be seriously at risk.

Other major funders supporting the project are South of Scotland Enterprise, John Muir Trust, The Carman Family Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and The Bently Foundation. 

The charity’s public crowdfunder, supported by nearly 4,000 people from around the world, reached its £200,000 target after a surge of over £50,000 in donations during its final week, including £24,000 on one day alone.

In the final 48 hours, with the community still some £150,000 short of the total funds needed, The Woodland Trust agreed to contribute £200,000 – taking The Langholm Initiative over the line.

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 now aims to show how community ownership can be a catalyst for regeneration with the environment at its heart, and hopes its success will inspire other communities in Scotland and across the UK. 

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. See langholminitiative.org.uk.


16 Responses to “Langholm Moor community buyout officially completed”

  1. 1 Andrew
    March 26, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    Amazing! Best of luck and hope to see the will of the public triumph in other initiatives too.
    Politicians take note.

  2. March 26, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    This is great news. I was wondering whether the discussions regarding the further 5,300 acres had been concluded and maybe an outcome , but in the meantime I can only applaud the tremendous amount of work that has been done to get to this point.

  3. 3 Simon Tucker
    March 26, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    It is fantastic news! Well done to all concerned. I look forward to visiting one day.

  4. 4 Keith Dancey
    March 26, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    A million congratulations. I never actually thought it possible, but it was!

  5. 5 Peter Shearer
    March 26, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    Great news – very encouraging for the future too.

  6. 6 Carol wood
    March 26, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    Wonderful news

  7. March 26, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    ‘Discussions are continuing between The Langholm Initiative and Buccleuch over another 5,300 acres of land the community wishes to buy, and which could double the size of the new nature reserve.’
    That is good news too!

  8. 8 Nigel Raby
    March 26, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    It’s great to get some positive news for once. 👍

  9. 9 Paul V Irving
    March 26, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    This is indeed very good news let us all hope that the management of the nature reserve allows it to be a huge success. Let’s hope further land is added to it soon.

  10. March 26, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    Fantastic…from the playground of raptor killers and egg thieves [I spent far too much time trying to eradicate both in the 1980s and 1990s] to what looks like a glorious nature filled future. Hearty congrats to all concerned. Tom Irvine would be delighted…

    • 11 Paul Shimmings
      March 26, 2021 at 9:51 pm

      A fitting tribute to Tom indeed, and worthy of a memorial hide or similar, in memory of a warm and kind-hearted man who dedicated all his spare time to monitoring wildlife in the Tarras Valley and surroundings. Hope to see sensible management and a more diverse wildlife in the area, instead of the monotonous grouse moors the area became at the hands of the wealthy. Look forward to seeing how this develops.

  11. 12 Ian
    March 26, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Congratulations to all concerned, a monumental achievement! Where next?

  12. 13 Dougie
    March 26, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    Excellent result 🦅 🦉 🐣 🦊 👍

  13. 14 Ladybudd
    March 27, 2021 at 7:47 am

    So overwhelmed with delight, there are no words to describe how utterly joyful I felt in reading this…positive proof that when enough like minded wish to make changes for the better, it is indeed possible. The epitome of how a seemingly unattainable goal, faced with determination, focus and positive reinforcement, can be overcome, achieved and boost the moral for those inclined to take on future challenges. Well done to everyone who participated; as no matter how small one considered their part, it’s been shown how every single act, gesture, word has brought this about. A genuine day for celebration indeed…and onward to forge other paths, knowing that we can indeed make a difference and changes to benefit our wildlife, ecology, environment and the many, even less visible but equally important issues surrounding/connected with them. Cheers, with most warm regards, Mrs Robin Elizabeth

  14. 15 Les Wallace
    March 28, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    This is fantastic, another nail in the coffin for the status quo and great to see another initiative in the southern uplands alongside the fantastic work being done by the Border Forest Trust. It’s incredibly easy, too easy, to forget how substantial this part of Scotland is. Well done to all who were responsible in achieving this, what an incredible difference it must be to be able to look forward rather than being stuck looking at soul destroying grouse moors day after day after day. Exciting days!!

  15. 16 Paul Boyd
    March 29, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    Great news. Anyone know who sold this land to the Buccleuch Estate in the first place? Asking for a friend.

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