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March 26, 2014

Land reform is a global issue

Last week, Community Land Scotland hosted a small gathering of  land reform experts including many with international experience. The seminar explored parallels between the land grabs that took place here some 200 years ago with what is happening in many countries around the world today. It also highlighted the fact that while the human rights argument has been used to constrain the cause of land reform in the past, recent work suggests that it may indeed advance the cause of land justice in the future.


Community Land Scotland

Community Land Scotland, the organisation representing Scotland’s community land owners and actively campaigning for more radical land reform in Scotland has re-affirmed its commitment to achieving “the just cause of establishing new land ownership patterns in Scotland”.

The commitment comes in the Bunchrew Land Declaration following a gathering of Scottish and international land reform interests.

 David Cameron, the Harris based Chair of Community Land Scotland said,

 “We have had a very valuable meeting with other Scottish, UK, EU and international land reform interests over two days last week. By referencing ourselves to what has and is happening internationally in land reform you are forcefully reminded that land reform has been and remains a cause that is legitimately pursued to empower communities and win a more people centred approach to land governance. Far from land reform being just the interest of a small group of radicals, as it is often portrayed, in fact land reform is a mainstream international cause in which the UN and national governments around the world are actively engaged.

 “When you meet with others out-with Scotland, you are also reminded just how far behind the rest of Europe Scotland is in land reform, most countries having brought about greater land justice in centuries past.

 “We have left the meeting with renewed commitment to bring about land justice through land reform and about the legitimacy of the cause, and we are pledged to learn from and work with others to bring this about.”

 Michael Taylor of the International Land Coalition based in Rome who attended the event, said,

 “Like any country facing high concentrations of land ownership, challenging this structure also means challenging the concentration of economic and political power with which land ownership is so intertwined. Community Land Scotland is now setting its sights internationally; on learning from land reform movements in other countries and on linking in with global processes that can support their cause.

 “Community Land Scotland’s efforts are simultaneously a national and a local struggle; nationally in gaining political and public support for land reform, and locally in demonstrating the tangible benefits to communities of moving from being tenants to being landowners. Their achievements, and of the many that work with them, are impressive.”


 Community Land Scotland drew together arrange of interests at a meeting at Bunchrew House near to Inverness for a 24 hour gathering. The meeting was attended by lawyers, academics and land reform interests from Scotland, other parts of the UK and Europe and overseas, including Michael Taylor from the International Land Coalition based in Rome (quoted above).

 The final Bunchrew Land Declaration was drawn up by Community Land Scotland following the event and drawing on the lessons from it.

 Bunchrew Land Declaration

Community Land Scotland has adopted a declaration following a meeting at Bunchrew House, Inverness in March 2014 involving land policy and reform interests from Scotland, the rest of the UK and internationally.


Having shared Scotland’s land experience and learned of initiatives and events internationally in land reform, and recognising Scotland lags behind most countries in Europe in delivering reformed land ownership patterns, Community Land Scotland has re-affirmed its commitment to the just cause of establishing new land ownership patterns in Scotland and a people centred approach to land governance in support of the common good.

 Community Land Scotland has called on established land owning interests to recognise the manifest unfairness of current land ownership patterns in Scotland and is citing international agreements which legitimise nation states intervening in land ownership to bring about greater fairness and land justice.

 Community Land Scotland has pledged itself to work with other interests in Scotland and more widely to learn from others and to share with others Scotland’s experience of the land ownership question.

 The full declaration can be accessed on Community Land Scotland’s website