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Social Land Ownership


Who Owns Scotland?
Land Reform
Land Reform Guidance
Commonweal Papers
Networks of Agents
Training of Trainers

Social Land Ownership

Eight Case Studies from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

Volume One ISBN 0 947919 45 7

Foreword Lord Sewel, Minister for Agriculture, the Environment and Fisheries.
Overview David Reid
Historical Review - to restore the land to the people and the people to the land: the emergence on the not-for-profit land ownership sector in the highlands and islands of Scotland Graham Boyd
Business Planning: the Assynt Experience John MacKenzie
Sconser Estate: A partnership between a crofting community and the John Muir Trust Angus McHattie
Dalnavert Community Co-operative Limited Euan MacAlpine
Earthshare: Moray's first community supported agricultural scheme Christopher Rayment and Stewart Noble
Highland Renewal: a highland land regeneration project Carol Riddell
Whitebridge Forest-Farms: An innovative farm-forestry proposal in the Highlands Bernard Planterose
Nature Reserves and Local People: two case studies from Badenoch and Strathspey Stewart Taylor, Les Street and Pete Mayhew
About this publication  


Lord Sewel, Minister for Agriculture, the Environment and Fisheries

The Government wants to see more community involvement - in all sorts of ways - in the way that land is owned and used right across Scotland. This is a matter of fairness; and will help to ensure that local people are not in future excluded from decisions which after all affect their homes, their jobs, their lives.

Areas differ. Circumstances differ. Communities differ. "One size fits all" is the wrong approach.

Full blown community ownership is not the only right answer. For some communities in some circumstances, it can be the best solution. But, as John MacKenzie's account for example makes clear, community ownership is tough going: tough at the start, and equally tough to keep going. I am pleased that the establishment by the Government of the Community Land Unit last year has, by common consent, greatly helped groups considering community ownership or management by providing support and help with the practicalities. But we need to recognise that community ownership will never be easy and long-term viability will often be hard to deliver; and in many cases different sorts of community involvement in management of the land may well offer most of the gains of community ownership without so much of the pains. These case studies usefully provide a range of models.

I welcome the publication of this first volume of case studies as a means of widening understanding about the range of possibilities; as a means of spreading the word about what works best and what works less well; and above all as a means of promoting interest in community involvement in land generally. I commend the case studies to all with an interest in viable rural communities; and I very much look forward to further editions.


This collection of case studies has the theme of social land ownership. It comprises an introductory review of the history of not-for-profit land owning initiatives, and eight accounts of attempts by groups or organisations to develop or manage land in ways which address environmental, social and economic objectives.

The accounts have been written by people who have been closely involved in the initiatives and who are prepared to share their experience in the hope that it will be of interest to other not-for-profit groups who own, or aspire to own, land.

The collection has been brought together by the Not-for-Profit Landowners Project Group - a project association which wishes to share good practice in the field of social land ownership.

About this Publication

Compiled and Edited by Graham Boyd and David Reid of the Caledonia Centre for Social Development First published jointly by the Not-For-Profit Landowners Project Group, Inverness, and the Scottish Community Education Council, April 1999

Printed copies of this publication are available for 9.95 from

Rosebery House,
9 Haymarket Terrace,
Edinburgh EH12 5EZ.
Tel: 0131 313 2488.
Fax: 0131 313 6800.
ISBN 0 947919 45 7