The John McEwen Memorial Lectures on Land Tenure in Scotland are sponsored by the Friends of John McEwen.
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The McEwen Lectures began in 1993 to pay tribute to the life and work of John McEwen (1887-1992) and they have quickly become established as key annual events in the ongoing Land Tenure debate in Scotland.
The Lectures provide well reasoned, authoritative and ground-breaking presentations by distinguished authorities on the subject of Land Tenure in Scotland.
In 1996 the Perth and Kinross Council launched the John McEwen Archive on Landownership in Scotland at the A K Bell Library in Perth, Scotland.
The Archive is open to public consultation and makes available for the first time an authoritative collection of material which either belonged to John McEwen or is about him, and which has been donated to the Library by his friends and colleagues. The library is also compiling a bibliography on landownership in Scotland, and is continullay building on its collection of holdings.
John McEwen was born near Aberfeldy, Perthshire, in 1887. He left school at 14 and trained in forestry on the Earl of Seafield's Cullen Estate. In 1920 he joined the Forestry Commission. From 1945 until his retirement in 1970 he was self employed, mainly in Perthshire, as a forestry consultant.
In 1961 he was elected President of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society - only the second working forester ever to hold that prestigious title. In 1963 his services to forestry were recognised by the award of an OBE.
In 1977 his book Who Owns Scotland was published and gave new impetus to the debate about land ownership in Scotland. A second edition was published in 1980 - the year he was made a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
John McEwen died on 22nd September 1992 only two days short of his 105th birthday.
The 1999 McEwen Lecture will be the last McEwen Lecture, or at least the last one in the current series.
Circumstances have changed remarkably since the first McEwen Lecture was held in Aberfeldy in 1993. Then the challenge was to establish land reform as a legitimate and important topic for public debate and government policy. This year's lecture takes place on the week before the Scottish Parliament starts work on a programme of land reform legislation.
This year's lecture is thus at an historic juncture in the history of the land reform debate in Scotland and is at an appropriate point to conclude the current series of McEwen Lectures. The six Lectures 1993-99, admirably rounded off by Andy Wightman's forward looking Lecture, will come from a different era once the parliament has started work on land reform.
The McEwen Lectures have been valued and enjoyed by many people and have provided an important meeting place for those with an interest in land reform. That need will now be met much more fully by the Scottish Land Reform Convention which is the appropriately constituted civic body to draw different interests together in ways that match the new focus given to land reform by the Scottish Parliament.