TARRAS VALLEY NATURE RESERVE
One of the most ambitious community projects of a generation
How did we get here?
Langholm has successfully undertaken one of the South of Scotland’s largest community land buyout, following one of the most ambitious community fundraising campaigns ever seen. The community now legally owns 5,200 acres of land which includes upland moor, ancient woodland, meadows, peatlands and river valley which is being developed into the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve.
The story of this community land purchase captured the interest of people from all around the world during the global pandemic. This campaign offered a source of hope and inspiration which so many people came to support and it highlighted what can be achieved when people come together.
In May 2019, Buccleuch Estates announced its decision to sell 25,000 acres of Langholm Moor and the Tarras Valley in its Borders Estate.
The community interest in buying this land grew and the Langholm initiative decided to take forward a fundraising campaign on behalf of the community to try and raise funds to purchase 10,500 acres of this estate. At the start, this seemed like an impossible dream but with dedicated efforts across the community and partner organisations, the campaign grew quickly and attracted national interest and support from all over the world.
A huge fundraising campaign attracted £3.8m in just 6 months with a public crowd funder which raised over £200,000 in generous public donations as well as funding from Scottish Land Fund, South of Scotland Enterprise, John Muir Trust, Carman Family Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Woodland Trust. This allowed the community to purchase 5,200 acres of the land, which was officially transferred to the community in March 2021 to mark a historic landmark achievement for Langholm.
This has now paved the way for the creation of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve which will help tackle climate change, restore nature at a huge scale and support community regeneration. The Langholm Initiative now has a team of staff in place to take forward the development of the reserve which includes creating a nature reserve management plan, planting a new woodland and developing an education and volunteering programme. The team will continue to be supported by our volunteer board members and we have established a separate committee to take responsibility for the nature reserve.
Here is a snapshot of some of the work we are doing now that the land is in community ownership.
One of our big priorities is the development of the TVNR management plan which is essential in setting our ideas in motion. We have a fantastic foundation of clear objectives which were developed with our community and partners during the buy-out so our focus is to put more detail on these - everything from how we facilitate large ecosystem recovery to sustainable and responsible eco-tourism.
It’s essential that our community and partners are directly involved in setting the future direction so the team are undertaking an extensive programme of community events, workshops and drop-ins starting in Autumn/Winter 2021.
Habitats within the reserve will be allowed an encouraged to regenerate naturally, and this process has already begun in some areas of the reserve. We will be planting new areas of native, broadleaf woodland, and allow the current woodland areas to recover along the river, creating a wilder landscape which will provide a rich mosaic of habitats to support a large range of wildlife and maximise biodiversity.
We already have a great group of volunteers who are keen to be involved in the work we are doing on the reserve. Volunteers are vital for helping us to make the plans for the reserve a reality. There will be many volunteering opportunities available going forwards, including practical conservation tasks, biological surveying, environmental education and community engagement.
During October 2021, we began working with classes from local primary schools on the reserve, and at sites around Langholm, doing activities such as den building, mini-beast hunts and fire building.
We are currently in the process of developing an environmental education programme which will be launched in early 2022, to provide an opportunity for school groups and families to engage with and learn about the wildlife on the reserve.
A Digital Journey of Landscape Restoration
We have had a unique opportunity to employ a creative digital media manager to bring our journey of landscape restoration to life. A separate website will be created to follow the progress and projects taking place on the reserve. This will allow our supporters from all around the world, who aren’t able to visit the site to experience some of the natural wonders of the area! Watch this space for more details
2nd Phase Buyout
We have launched our campaign to raise the funds to purchase a further 5,300 acres of land. By doubling the size of the reserve, we would also be able to double the impact that we have for people, wildlife and the climate. As wildlife thrives best in a large, interconnect mosaic of habitats, having a larger reserve would allow us to support a wider range of wildlife and maximise biodiversity. We would also have more space to improve site access and establish ecotourism initiatives, which would help to create more employment opportunities.
To complete this project we will need to raise £2.2m by 31st May 2022 and this will be our final opportunity to bring this land into community ownership.
To find out more or to donate to our buyout campaign, please visit our GoFundMe page - Langholm Moor Second-Stage Community Buyout (gofundme.com)
CREATING THE TARRAS VALLEY NATURE RESERVE
The information in this prospectus is underpinned by a robust feasibility study, business plan and financial model as well as a separate feasibility study regarding renewable energy.
We have also engaged with a large number of stakeholders.