AN anonymous donation of half a million pounds is boosting a community effort to expand a nature reserve in the south of Scotland.
Building on this success, the Langholm Initiative community group is hoping to grow the site by 5,300 acres in a second round of crowdfunding.
Already home to multiple bird species, including short-eared owls and hen harriers, the reserve also contains peatland and there are plans to restore ancient woodland and plant native species on other areas of the site.
This expansion would effectively double the size of the reserve, bringing it to a total of 10,500 acres.
However, to achieve this, the initiative needs to raise £2.2m by May 2022, in order to purchase the Langholm Moor land from Buccleuch.
So far, the amount of money raised has surpassed the quarter way mark and the charity are also reaching out to grant funding bodies to support their cause.
Jenny Barlow, Tarras Valley Nature Reserve’s estate manager, described the progress as “a wonderful milestone for the community” and added that “it really feels like Christmas has come early”.
She said: “We’re so grateful to everyone who has donated and supported us, and for the amazingly generous £500,000 donation.
“It’s put the wind in our sails as we approach the end of the year.
“But we have a long way to go, and we urgently need support from major funders.
“Buccleuch’s offer of keeping the land off the open market is time limited – so we need to raise the total funds by next May, or the chance of purchasing this dramatic, culturally important land will be lost forever.”
As well as supporting the local environment, which in turn can help boost wider plans for tackling nature and climate emergencies, it is hoped that the area will encourage community regeneration by bringing nature-based tourism.
Charities which are already supporting the buyout include Borders Forest Trust, John Muir Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life and the Woodland Trust.