THE largest community buyout ever to take place in the south of Scotland has “achieved the impossible”, securing a landmark deal to incorporate an extra 5300 acres of land, more than doubling its size after a last-minute rush secured vital funding.

The agreement, which will significantly expand the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, was struck between The Langholm Initiative and Buccleuch, and will go ahead now after a staggering community fundraising campaign which helped the Dumfriesshire town on its way to successfully raise its £2.2 million goal before the July 31 deadline passed by.

The move will double the size of the reserve, which was created last year after an initial buyout raised £3.8m to purchase 5200 acres and six residential properties from Buccleuch. The reserve aims to help tackle the nature and climate crises, while boosting community regeneration.

The second stage of the buyout came only after a last-minute rush to secure the funds necessary for the deal to go ahead, with thousands of pounds flowing into the public crowd funder just days before the final deadline was reached.

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There were significant donations of £300,000 from Alex Gerko, founder of XTX Markets, £100,000 from Anne Reece of the Reece Foundation, and £50,000 from John Muir Trust.

Jenny Barlow, Tarras Valley Nature Reserve’s estate manager, said: “We are so grateful to every single person who has backed this beacon of hope for people and planet – together we have achieved the impossible.

"It’s been a rollercoaster, but the generosity and unwavering support of so many wonderful donors and volunteers have got us over the line in the nick of time.

“This is about a grassroots fightback against the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, and helping to create a better future. We are doing something so special here, and our expanding reserve is an amazing opportunity for people to visit this part of the world and be inspired by the wonders of nature.”

The National: Jenny Barlow and Angela Williams are managing the projectJenny Barlow and Angela Williams are managing the project

Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch, said: “We are absolutely delighted for The Langholm Initiative and have been pleased to work with them and support their project every step of the way. This successful outcome is testament to what can be achieved by people working together constructively.

“When Buccleuch launched its community consultation on the proposed sale of 25,000 acres of land on Langholm Moor, we couldn’t know what the community’s aspirations would be. To see The Langholm Initiative grow the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve from the initial 5200 acres to almost double that is fantastic, and we look forward to seeing the evolution of the project over the coming years.”

On the reserve, historically significant peatlands and ancient woods are to be restored, native woodlands expanded, and a haven ensured for wildlife. The site will also see a concerted effort towards community regeneration through a nature-based approach, with six new jobs already created. Langholm was once a thriving textile centre, but the industry has declined in recent years.

In June, the Scottish Land Fund awarded The Langholm Initiative £1m towards the buyout, while an anonymous private donor made a donation of £500,000 at the appeal’s launch last October.

The National: Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), male carrying meadow pipit nestling, Anthus pratensis, chick as prey back to nest, Langholm Moor, Dumfries-shire, Scotland, June, 2010.

Nearly 3000 people have donated to the crowd funder since it launched nine months ago, taking it past its £200,000 stretch target to reach over £242,000.

Margaret Pool, trustee of The Langholm Initiative, said: “The generosity of so many people locally, nationally and worldwide has been amazing. Our heartfelt thanks go to every donor, supporter and volunteer who helped us overcome what so often felt like impossible odds. We are also very grateful to Buccleuch for their ongoing positive engagement, which was absolutely crucial.

“Every single pound donated to the crowd funder counted. Each donation kept this impossible dream alive, while major donors could see from the outpouring of support that this was an inspiring, serious project of hope.

“This is a historic result for our community now and for future generations. We also hope our story will inspire other community-led nature recovery projects across Scotland and beyond. We know that communities can be powerful forces for positive change.”

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Buccleuch has supported the community bid throughout the process, agreeing with The Langholm Initiative a fixed purchase price in 2019 and being flexible with deadlines to allow for sufficient time for fundraising.

The purchase will be legally finalised between the community and Buccleuch over the coming months.

Charities that have backed the buyout include Borders Forest Trust, John Muir Trust, Rewilding Britain, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life, and the Woodland Trust.

The Langholm Initiative aims to facilitate projects which can make a lasting difference to local people and places. For more information visit