SCOTLAND’s largest community buyouts has received a major boost after a family pledged half a million pounds for the plan.
The Dunblane based Carmen Family Foundation pledged £500,000 to what is hoped to be Scotland’s largest community buyouts.
The community of the small town of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway aims to buy the 10,000 acres of Langholm Moor from the Buccleauch’s Borders Estate
The project – led by the Langholm Initiative charity is trying to receive the funds to buy the £6 million land and turn it into a large nature reserve to tackle boost nature and restoration.
The Scottish Land Fund recently awarded the Langholm Initiative £1 million, a third of the amount applied for, on condition the purchase is completed by October 31 – leaving the community just weeks to raise the remaining funds.
Creation of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve would see globally important peatlands and ancient woods restored, native woodlands planted and regenerated along river valleys, and open moorland protected for ground-nesting birds.
The land is a haven for wildlife including merlins, black grouse and short-eared owls, and a stronghold for hen harriers – the UK’s most persecuted bird of prey.
Public donations for the buyout have now reached £200,000, including through a crowdfunding appeal at gofundme.com/langholm-moor-buyout. T
This year’s Hen Harrier Day – held online on 8 August, and hosted by television presenters Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin – raised around £10,000 towards the purchase. The John Muir Trust has donated £100,000.
The Langholm Initiative is also working with the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency. The charity is seeking other major funders, and is urging people who can help to get in touch.
Benny Higgins, Executive Chairman of Buccleuch, has written to the Scottish Land Fund to express Buccleuch’s support for an extension, which would increase the prospects of a successful and workable outcome in the community buyout discussions.
The buyout project is supported by leading charities including Borders Forest Trust, John Muir Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Trees for Life, and The Woodland Trust.
Bill Carman, Trustee of the Carman Family Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to be helping bring this special area into the ownership of people who take biodiversity – both flora and fauna – seriously.
“Langholm Moor deserves to be protected and enhanced, because it is crucial that we all help the natural environment stabilise and re-establish, but also because it will act as an excellent example of how humans can work together in selfless communities.
“We think it is really important that the buyout succeeds, and would urge all who read this to contribute as much as they can.”
Kevin Cumming, the Langholm Initiative’s Project Leader said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received, including the kind donations to our crowdfunder from some 2,000 people so far.
“We’re going to exhaust every opportunity to seize this once-in-a-lifetime chance for the people of Langholm and for tackling the climate and nature crises.”
Langholm, nestled in the beautiful and dramatic Southern Uplands, has a rich history and culture. It is the birthplace of legendary poet Hugh McDiarmid and is famous for its annual Common Riding festival.
The once thriving textile centre has seen this industry decline in recent years. The people of the town have a deep connection to the land, which has never been sold before.
The Langholm Initiative was formed in 1994, as one of south Scotland’s earliest development trusts. It facilitates projects that make a lasting difference to the local area and local people.
The Carman Family Foundation was set up to assist with projects that both enhance biodiversity and encourage people to gain knowledge and enjoyment from the newly enhanced land.