Scotland is to get a brand new nature reserve thanks to a small community who just completed one of the nation’s biggest ever grassroots land buyouts, to restore the 5,200 acre estate to nature.
Community buys country estate to transform into nature reserve
Scotland is to get a new nature reserve thanks to the determined efforts of a rural community, which has completed one of the biggest grassroots land buyouts in the country’s history, reported Positive News.
More than 4,000 people from all over the world donated to the crowdfund
With the backing of the Langholm Initiative charity, the small Scottish community raised £3.8m ($5.2m) to buy 5,200 acres of land from the Duke of Buccleuch. The sale, agreed in October, was completed on Friday 26 March following a six-month crowdfunding campaign that reached its target just two days before the deadline.
There were 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 Langholm Initiative board member, told Positive News.
However, with people reassessing their relationship with nature during lockdown, the Langholm Initiative captured the collective imagination and the donations came flooding in.
“There was a clear desire for this to succeed,” said Cumming. “Having over 4,000 people from all over the world donate to a crowdfunder is quite humbling. It’s an unbelievable achievement.”
Margaret Pool, chair of the Langholm Initiative, added: “Together we’ve achieved something which once seemed impossible. A new era begins for this special land.”
community ownership can be a catalyst for regeneration with the environment at its heart
With the sale now complete, work will begin on transforming the Langholm Moor estate into the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve. Peatlands and ancient woods will be restored, native woodlands established and a haven created for wildlife including hen harriers. Plans for community regeneration include new nature-based tourism opportunities.
The Langholm Initiative says it wants to highlight how community ownership can be a catalyst for regeneration with the environment at its heart. It hopes its success will inspire other communities in Scotland and across the UK to bring more land under collective ownership.
ABOUT THE LANGHOLM INITIATIVE
Eskdale, hidden away between miles of rolling hills, is a community with heart. A former textile town, Langholm was known as the ‘Muckle Toon’ for its growing population and bustling mills.
Those days have since passed, and continued decline of traditional industries in Eskdale since the 1980s have meant that the population has decimated and the local economy has suffered for it.
That’s where Langholm Initiative comes in. Formed in 1994 as a partnership between private and public sectors, they were a response to a post-industrial crisis.
This was the beginning of a long history of success. As one of south Scotland’s earliest development trusts, Langholm Initiative has led the way in facilitating projects that make a real, lasting difference to the area, some of which you can read about here.
the Langholm Initiative’s projects have been improving the area For the past 25 years
The Langholm Initiative is the community anchor organisation for Eskdale, continually working to improve services and facilities for the area.
‘By growing our networks and expanding our skills we have been able to achieve and succeed for the benefit of our community. We believe in the strength of partnership working, and having been ideally placed to deliver change for more than 20 years, we have relationships with the public, private and third sectors that stretch across the region and the country.’
For 25 years the Langholm Initiative’s projects have been improving the area, and the lives of people that live there. The Langholm Initiative is the link to the wider world, and by developing a network of useful contacts, and a skilled team of staff, they say they will continue to ensure that it is a great place to live, work and visit. You can read more about their past projects here.
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