A new dawn for Langholm Moor?
Langholm Moor is a special place. Everyone has their own memory of our moor. Their first harrier skydance, a triumphant gaze beyond the back of the monument, a summer barbecue tucked away at the back of Tarras. It is the home of some of Scotland's rarest and most diverse wildlife and perhaps our best-kept secret. The Langholm Initiative has been working for many years to build closer links between the community and the landscape. Our Moorland Education Projects and recent Wild Eskdale project has encouraged people of all ages to explore and understand this precious natural resource. Our passion for it is why we have secured investment over the years in continuing important educational work, including John Muir Awards, work placements, holiday clubs, festivals and even a musical. Now, we recognise how the moor and its inhabitants could play a major role in our struggling economy. The Wild Eskdale project has been developing, promoting and delivering eco-tourism opportunities with the jewel in our crown being the vibrant moor that our community is proud to possess. Last month, we spoke about the importance of community buy-outs and how they could empower communities to reach their full potential. This month, we are excited to tell you all about how we could be doing that very thing. Following the announcement that Buccleuch Estate will be selling the 25,000 acres that make up Langholm Moor, the Langholm Initiative board decided to set up a working group to investigate the possibility of a community by out. Wild Eskdale project manager, Kevin Cumming, has produced a document to act as a starting point for how some of the land could be used as a nature reserve. The working group consist of Langholm Initiative chair Margaret Pool, Niall Weatherstone, Alison Hutton and Kevin Cumming. The group have already established a dialogue with a number of interested parties including the Newcastleton Community Council, the Common Riding Committee, the Castle Craigs Club, our own Community Council in Langholm, Community Land Scotland, the Scottish Land Fund and a number of other interested parties. The move to investigate a community buy out has been welcomed and supported in writing from a number of MSP’s including Michelle Ballantyne, Colin Smyth and Joan McAlpine. Perhaps most importantly the group has opened up a positive dialogue with Buccleuch Estate. Our first step is to demonstrate that there is a desire in the community to investigate community ownership of the moor. To achieve this the group have launched a local petition today which is available at various locations in Langholm including Welcome to Langholm and the Paper Shop. We are not asking you for money. There is no expectation for members of the community to pay towards the moor themselves with this petition. The signatures are purely to show interest in the community. The petition will be available until Thursday 11th July when the support will then be relayed to Buccleuch Estate and Community Land Scotland. Although we don’t know where this journey could lead at present, one thing is certain, if the community does not rally behind this petition we will have no say in what happens on Langholm Moor.