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A rural community in Scotland just completed one of the biggest grassroots land buyouts in the history of the nation. Under the wing of Langholm Initiative charity, the community raised 3.8 million pounds in order to purchase 5200 acres of land from the Duke of Buccleuch. The sale was agreed in October last year and completed on Friday, 26th of March this year.
The sale was made possible after a six-month-long crowdfunding campaign. The campaign reached its crowdfunding goal two days before the deadline. Sometimes the extent of the challenge seemed impossible for the community to grasp. Kevin Cumming, a Langholm Initiative board member, told Positive News:
“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.”
The pandemic didn’t turn out to be an obstacle at all. During the lockdown, people started rethinking their relationship with nature and this initiative caught the community’s attention and imagination. Donations from all over the world started rolling in.
“There was a clear desire for this to succeed,” Cumming said. “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.”
Other big funders like South of Scotland Enterprise and The Bently Foundation helped support the project as well.
Now that the sale is complete the work to transform the Langholm Moore estate to a nature reserve called Tarras Valley Nature Reserve can begin. Native woodlands will be established, peatlands and ancient woods restored and a haven for wildlife (including the hen harriers, the UK’s most persecuted bird of prey) will be created. There are also plans for community regeneration like new nature-based tourism opportunities.
Positive News writes “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.”