Scots Achieve the Impossible

A community in Scotland has completed one of the country’s largest ever land buyouts - and is now turning the estate into a 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.

Under the aegis of the Langholm Initiative charity, the community raised £3.8m to buy 5,200 acres of land from the Duke of Buccleuch, the largest private landowner in Scotland with some 280,000 acres (1,100 km2).

The sale, agreed in October, has just been completed. It followed a six month crowdfunding campaign that reached its target two days before the deadline. With people reassessing their relationship with nature during lockdown, the Langholm Initiative captured the collective imagination. Donations came from over 4,000 people from all over the world.

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.”

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

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 (pictured above), the UK’s most persecuted bird of prey. Plans for community regeneration include new nature-based tourism opportunities.