The story of our community land purchase captured the interest of people from all around the world during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The news about a small community trying to achieve what had never been done before in South Scotland, attracted local and national interest, made global headlines, and gathered support from all over the world.
How did we get to be one of South Scotland’s biggest community landowners?
After 2 years of fundraising, in what was termed a moment of history and hope for people, nature and climate, the community of Langholm now legally owns 10,500 acres of the Tarras Valley and Langholm Moor.
The vast landholding is being developed into the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve. It includes upland moorland; ancient woodlands; river meadows; internationally important peatlands, and 8 properties including an upland hefted sheep farm.
In May 2019, Buccleuch Estates announced its decision to sell 25,000 acres of Langholm Moor. This news came as a surprise and a shock to the local community who have deep cultural connections with the land. For over 250 years, the community have marked the boundaries of the land through the annual Common Riding, much of this land sat within the sale area.
Following extensive local consultations, the Langholm initiative agreed to take forward a fundraising campaign on behalf of the community, attempting to raise over £6m to purchase 10,500 acres of this very special landscape. Community ownership of land was a chance to help support wider regeneration of the town through new nature-based enterprises and make a meaningful contribution to the climate and ecological emergency.
At the start, this seemed like an impossible dream but with a huge dedicated effort across the community with an army of volunteers and support from partner organisations, the campaign quickly gained momentum. A fundraising campaign attracted a huge £3.8m in just 6 months. This enabled the initial purchase of 5,200 acres of the Tarras Valley to go ahead, the first half of the land officially transferred to the community in March 2021.
This included the land which has been marked for hundreds of years by many generations of the community of Langholm in the annual Common Riding – a historic achievement and a very powerful symbol. The final 5,300 acres of land was held off the open market in agreement with Buccleuch to enable the community to fundraise the final £2.2m to secure the Northern half of the Tarras Valley.
The buyout’s second stage was launched in October 2021. In 9 months, the community defied the odds and “achieved the impossible” for a second time in two years raising the total needed to double the size of the landholding and bring it into community hands. This truly epic journey for a small community would not have been possible without the unwavering support of so many wonderful donors and volunteers from all walks of life, who have helped us make history.