A community in Scotland has completed one of the largest land acquisitions in the country and is now converting the property into a nature reserve.
Scotland will get a new nature reserve thanks to the determined efforts of a rural community, which has completed one of the largest land acquisitions in the country’s history.
Under the aegis of the Langholm Initiative charity, the community raised £ 3.8 million to purchase 5,200 acres of land from the Duke of Buccleuch. The sale, agreed in October, was completed on Friday. Continued a six-month crowdfunding campaign It reached its goal two days before the deadline.
At times, the scale of the challenge seemed impossible to comprehend. “We had from March to October to raise millions of pounds at the start of a global pandemic, for a project that had never been done before,” Kevin Cumming, a board member of the Langholm Initiative, told Positive News.
But with people re-evaluating their relationship with nature during the confinement, the Langholm Initiative seemed to capture the collective imagination.
“There was a clear desire for this to be successful,” Cumming said. “Having more than 4,000 people from around the world donating to a crowdfunder is humbling. It is an incredible achievement. “
Other major donors who supported the project include South of Scotland Enterprise, John Muir Trust, The Carman Family Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, and The Bently Foundation.
The Langholm Initiative will restore habitats and create a sanctuary for wildlife, including birds. Image: Brian Taylor
With the sale now complete, work will begin to transform the Langholm Moor estate into the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve. Old forests and peat bogs will be restored, native woodlands established and a haven created for wildlife, including harriers (main image, above), the UK’s most hunted bird of prey. Plans for community regeneration include new opportunities for nature-based tourism.
By some estimates, Scotland has the most unequal land ownership of any country in the Western world. Community acquisitions are part of a renewed effort to make the terrain more uniform, so to speak.
The Langholm Initiative says it wants to highlight how community ownership can be a catalyst for regeneration with the environment at its center. He hopes his success will inspire other communities in Scotland and across the UK to put more land in common ownership.
Main image: Marsh harrier. Credit: Andreas Trepte