Community landownership

/kəˈmjuː.nə.ti / ˈəʊ.nə.ʃɪp/


Dr Mairi McFadyen




Loch Ness

See Also

Land Social
When land is owned and managed by a local community through representative mechanisms such as local trusts. There are many examples of this in Scotland, with communities taking ownership of islands, rural estates, forestry and woodland, allotments or urban spaces.

Further Reading

Community Ownership: Giving power to local people on Community Land Scotland website

Community Landowners & the Climate Emergency:
Reflections and Observations about community land and climate action by United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 / Community Land Scotland


Owning land and assets puts communities in control of their future. In recent decades, community buy-outs have revitalised many communities, both urban and rural – reversing depopulation through affordable housing and creating jobs through sustainable industry and ecological regeneration. Many examples can be found on the Community Land Scotland website.


The modern story of community landownership has radical roots in the land agitation and crofters’ resistance of the late 19th century, a response to the unjust concentration of ownership following the Highland Clearances. In the 1990s, the first wave of buy-outs took place in the Highlands and Islands, paving the way for the urban movement. For example, the Isle of Eigg and Abriachan Forest Trust are pioneers of community landownership in Scotland; over the last 20 years, they have been far ahead of their time in creating a sustainable future.


While common ownership of land does not necessarily mean it will be managed well, it is a vital step towards breaking up systems of power and re-engaging people with collective local responsibility. Community landowners are often involved in climate action and awareness-raising, due to an ingrained sense of stewardship and responsibility for the local community and environment.



Image: Neil McGuire

Abriachan Forest, Image: Robb Mcrae

Books from the Abriachan Forest Trust, Image: Robb Mcrae

Questions & Provocations

When does ownership become synonymous with stewardship?