Life on Langholm Moor: Wild justice and community spirit seeking the raptors’ return

Jun 1 2020

David Oakes explores the hopes for the Langholm Moor community buyout. Featuring interviews with Kevin Cumming (the project's leader) and Langholm Moor local, Gavin Graham, as well as with Mark Avery, one of the founding members of Wild Justice.

David Oakes

David Oakes


Langholm Initiative & Wild Justice


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About this episode:

In this bonus episode of “Trees A Crowd”, David Oakes looks into the world of wildlife crime and discusses the benefits of one of the largest planned community buyouts the country has ever seen. Kevin Cumming, the Langholm Initiative’s project leader, and Gavin Graham, a local resident of Langholm Moor, speak about their hopes to bring 10,500 acres (about 5,600 football pitches) of moorland, just north of Gretna Green, just north of the England-Scotland border, into community ownership. Incorporating peatland restoration, ancient woodland preservation and the increase of wildlife biodiversity, they hope to turn this area of grouse moorland into the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve. David also speaks with Mark Avery about why he, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay founded their non-profit organisation, “Wild Justice”, to uphold and to challenge existing legislation in order to help make initiatives like that at Langholm possible.

David's thoughts:

I love the way Gavin says “wild life” rather than “wildlife”. It is lovely to hear, just through intonation, life’s seperatation into its constituent parts. The wild, and, presumably, the unwild. The unwild – us, order, what we can control, and; the wild – that which would presumably do quite well without us getting involved in the slightest. It provides a beat in time to reevaluate, to rebalance, to readdress where exactly we as humans stand, and from this stand point, how we perceive the world around us and our impact upon it.

The truth is that we are defined by the wild. It should not be the other way around. Human nature should be the anomaly, not these hopes for Langholm Moor. Whether this is Gavin’s intention, well… that’s a question for another conversation. Hopefully one had striding out across the moor. The unwild welcomed into the wild.

There has been a sinister rise in wildlife crime throughout the COVID19 pandemic. So much so that even the Channel 4 News ran a piece on national TV. These are crimes being committed, laws being broken, animals being killed, by supposedly “unwild” people exploiting the fact that authorities are focused elsewhere. These are scary times for human kind, but chilling for our wild habitats too. If ever there were a time to prove to ourselves that we are not wild, that we have achieved a better status, then now couldn’t be soon enough.

Presuming you’ve already listened to the podcast, there’s little I need to add this week, other than that I agree wholeheartedly with Gavin, Kevin and Mark. If I had the resources I would buy Langholm Moor, and other imperilled habitats, for their respective communities. If I had the resources I would pay for lawyers to work year round on behalf of Wild Justice and the upholding of our country’s rural laws and orders. If I had the resources, I would do a great deal…

Anything you can do to help these noble causes would be so gratefully appreciated by Kevin, Graham and Mark, and by me. Let me reiterate, Langholm needs to raise this money by October, so please do help now. As Mark says, if they successfully raise this money:

“The eyes of the world will be on Langholm”


The Langholm Moor Initiative:

www –
crowdfunder –
twitter –
instagram –

Wild Justice & Mark Avery:

www (Wild Justice) –
twitter (Wild Justice) –
www (Mark Avery) –
twitter (Mark Avery) –

Images on this page of Black Grouse and Short-eared Owls, on location at Langholm Moor, reproduced courtesy of John Wright.

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