Local community wants to transform Langholm grouse moor in to nature reserve

In May this year it was announced that the Buccleuch Estate was to sell Langholm Moor in the Scottish Borders (see here).

Most of us know Langholm Moor as being the focus of two long-term studies over a period of 25 years aimed at understanding better the conflict between raptors and grouse moor management, although the project ended prematurely three years ago (see here) and we are still waiting to see the project’s final report.

A group of locals are now planning to facilitate a community land buy-out proposal to transform the knackered old grouse moor in to a species-rich nature reserve to benefit local people, nature conservation and tourism.

Calling themselves the Langholm Moor Working Group, these local community members are currently crowd-funding to raise £5,000 to help cover the costs of putting together a feasibility study, needed to agree on a fair price and to establish a sustainable case for community ownership. The group has secured match funding for anything it manages to raise via the crowd fund.

This feasibility study includes an independent valuation of the land, the development of a business plan, an appraisal of assets, liabilities and opportunities, and payment of legal fees. The group is looking at the development potential and income sources in relation to a visitor centre, business development, buildings assets, agriculture, woodland management and development, a nature reserve, renewable energy, culture and heritage and art and the environment.

The Langholm Moor Working Group has been in discussion with the Scottish Land Fund and Community Land Scotland about preparing a bid to purchase the Dumfries and Galloway side of the moorland. This area is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA) for Hen Harriers. It also encompasses residential and farm properties.

Newcastleton District Community Trust is apparently preparing a separate complimentary proposal for the moorland on the Borders side.

The Scottish Land Fund has a two stage process, and to pass stage one the Langholm Moor Working Group needs to complete its feasibility study.

A fund-raising target of £5,000 seems remarkably good value for such an important opportunity. If you’re able to contribute a few quid to help this brilliant community take back ownership of this grouse moor and turn it in to a place of value for all, please support them by donating here.



24 thoughts on “Local community wants to transform Langholm grouse moor in to nature reserve”

  1. Oh how I wish I’d won the lottery! I will make a small donation but would like to buy the Borders side outright, if prove that conservation can be more profitable than grouse shooting.

    1. Right now the fund is at £3.6k, with the average donation a little over £20. I think that shows democracy in action.

    1. The working group must get this right. It is absolutely vital that the conservation sector assists the community to provide a successful economically viable outcome in order that it may be shown that there is at least one alternative to driven grouse shooting which provides more and better employment.
      The 18 page document on their website, although not trying to be definitive, does use many phrases that give encouragement. I have little doubt that the SPA and SSI could have greater biodiversity and assist fighting climate change whilst providing sustainable local employment.

  2. Considering the planned for buying of Langholme Moor and the necessary raising of funds through and from philanthropic routes – Crowed Funding, if a suitably well heeled buyer buys it and intends to keep it for it’s current usage, a Grouse Moor – what are the plans for the charitable funds raised, should planned for and intended purchase fail?

    1. Hi Alec,

      My understanding (admittedly sketchy) is that the community has first dibs on the right to buy (under new Land Reform legislation) so can’t be usurped by ‘a suitably well-heeled buyer’ until the community has exhausted all its options and decided that the feasibility study has shown a buy-out might be unsustainable.

      There is a detailed explanation at the foot of the crowd funder page on how the funds will be dispersed under various different scenarios.

      1. Broadly correct, the land is now effectively off the market pro-tem.
        Lest all the SNP knockers who contribute to this blog forget, it was the SNP who introduced the community right to buy legislation.

        1. ‘it was the SNP who introduced the community right to buy legislation.’

          The original community right to buy was introduced in 2003 by a Labour/LibDem government, not by the SNP.

  3. Happy to support as I think this should be encouraged more and more to get land into the ownership of people who will value the wildlife on it. I also think all wildlife bodies should get together and set up a “land purchase scheme” which we the public can support with the specific aim of obtaining as much land as possible. Currently they all have seperate projects in which they ask us to help, but there must be some areas where they can all work together.

  4. A major step in the right direction – and an opportunity to show that a multi-species approach with perhaps some limited non-intrusive diversification is a very valid alternative to any failed single species approach.

  5. What happened to the RSPB and the RSPCA ; crowd funding and another quango don’t sit right .
    These sites will always be managed and there for un-natural.
    The Uk is covered in areas that various trusts and quangos promote
    These unregulated environmental projects follow their own ideals and spend as much on boosting their own egos as protecting wildlife.
    Try seeing an audit on any site and asking questions

  6. This is fantastic!! Given the scale of grouse shooting in Scotland and northern England there should actually be govt funding to look at models of how to diversify economically. Even if you had no moral or conservation objections to DGS having communities largely dependent on one industry, especially one that’s a crap employer anyway, is not sensible at all. You need diverse, vigorous economies and you don’t get that by reducing a landscape to rotationally burnt heather so a tiny few can shoot lots of grouse. The south of Scotland below the central belt desperately needs this type of change. We used to drive through this area to and from Falkirk and Gloucester when I was a kid and I completely effing hated it even before I knew much of it was grouse moor, soul destroying emptiness. Best of luck LCB!!

  7. I wonder why the RSPB and other main organisations are not getting involved, after all they have been monitoring the moor for the past few years and they know it is a major stronghold of the Hen Harriers, why don’t they buy this land and protect the wildlife, instead of wasting members money on building fancy buildings which are neither wanted or needed. Wake up before we lose the very birds your are supposed to be protecting with our money.

  8. I agree with Peter Shearer, with his suggestion that a “land purchase scheme” be considered as a way of amalgamating various organisations for a fund-raise to assist a buy-out (community or otherwise) of some estate or precious habitat, with a well-researched plan for its alternative use, than becoming another shooting area. However, there could be the problem of expecting to raise the required amount, with the projects of charities being crafted to expect a reasonable response for project fulfilment. Several charities have informed me, that they have often have to turn away offers of land from various individuals, as the lack the resources to manage them. How much of such land is being lost for conservation purposes? The opposition has proved to be competent in finding a rich buyer, or group of individuals with adequate funds, as they see land hitherto used as sporting estates or whatever, threatened by further public/wildlife charity ownership, as inimical to their centuries old hegemony over the upland, landscape. With the wonderful growth of conservation charities, and the entry of vocal and charismatic personalities, on behalf of saving wildlife and plant species from extinction, there now exists a more informed and concerned public, who have dug deep to fund the saving of endangered species and habitats. However, community buy-outs can be fragile affairs, if not backed by a united in purpose core of organisers, with a clear and acceptable plan for the the management of the land in question. That is the area that needs experienced assistance. The mob that has distorted the landscape of Scotland and rest of the UK, has influence and can rally mega-funds, if they see their privilege to hunt and shoot, and have their minions break the law. Scottish Governments have venerated shooting estates as the bulwark of the rural economy, and subsequent Environment Ministers have endorsed the supposed invaluable contributions made to rural employment. All that is now under challenge with the likes of the Langholm Moor project and the right to buy by the local community, as an inroad into this world of blood sports. Such projects could escalate, and so win back the land for a more humane and progressive thinking population, who see the planet under severe threat due to mismanagement of industrial activities, energy production, trophy shooting, rainforest destruction, endless plantations of palm oil, soya and whatever ruins biodiversity. Our Education system should now become imbued with revealing to our young people, a more benign way of living on the Earth, and how we have to open our minds to seeing the harm being done by the wrong use of the landscape. The lauding of the gamekeeper as a valiant killer of vermin, should be revealed in all its ugly and cruel reality. Scotland has a golden chance to create a model for others to follow, on how to democratise land ownership, by ridding itself of an historically imposed regime of oppression on areas of its natural landscape. We now have a courageous ethically-minded part of our population which no longer wants to be kept out of decision-making. We also require a more enlightened type of politician, one who does not bin anything that criticises the status quo, and claiming that there are more important issues. I will be supporting this project to the hilt, as a break to freedom from the thraldom of the birkies and others who strut across my country, and who have locked the ordinary folk, but their time has hopefully now come. We must support such endeavours.

  9. For those donating, the link leads on to a Go Fund Me appeal. This is through PayPal. Their donation page offers one a link to open an account with PP. This I was unwiling to do. What isn’t obvious is that clicking on the relevant Credit Card logo takes one to a ‘guest’ checkout.

    I thought others might chose this route.

  10. I’m trying to Donte via the link above the GoFundMe page but I can’t seem to complete the donation without first joining PayPal. I dont want to create a PP account. Has anyone else come across this and know how to get round it?

  11. In 1989 Buccleuch Estate were in negotiations with RSPB to provide viewing sites for harriers and other wildlife at Langholm Moor..I initiated that….instead, it was decided to start the Langholm Study into grouse and predation. So that was a waste of 30 years!….more harriers than ever being killed all over the UK. I really hope the local communities make a go of this – if it was up to me Id turn half of it into native woodland. The problem for Langholm always was that it was an island of heather surrounded by hundreds of square miles of conifer plantation and sheepwalk.That wont change anytime soon..

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