Skip to content

Community Land Scotland

Reflections On The CLS Conference 2024

11 July 2024

Atenchong Talleh Nkobou from the Royal Agricultural University  & our Policy Manager Josh Doble reflect on our 2024 conference, the history of Scottish land reform and Scotland’s place within the global movement for land rights.

Extracts of the longer blog are below, with the full blog available to download through the button at the bottom.

This year’s Community Land Scotland Annual Conference 2024 took place in the city of Perth, Scotland from the 10- 11th of May 2024, with opportunities to reimagine the future of community land reform in Scotland. The conference’s theme ‘Own Yersel Scotland: Reimagining the future’, invited participants to be introspective, learn from other community landowners through conversations and to propose reimagined futures for community land ownership and land reform in Scotland.

With over one hundred participants at this year’s conference, the venue was buzzing with activities and ideas, including contributions from community landowners, politicians, artists, activists and academics. Multiple breakout sessions enabled a sense of open dialogue, with peer-to-peer discussions around ‘ideas about creating a legislative, funding and policy environment that genuinely enables and achieves change’ in community-led development in

A photo taken of the conference from above, with delegates sitting at tables listening to a presentation from the Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon

Whilst the transfer of private estates to community ownership is still being pursued as a ‘rural development strategy’ by some communities, as a means of shifting the focus away from market driven/individual wealth creation and towards a recognition of the importance of community-based approaches, the supporting legislation, funding and political appetite are seemingly at a low ebb. Clearly, the history of ‘power’ struggles within Scotland land debates continues to reproduce these re-emergent issues within land reform and land use discourses.

Contemporary debates about land reform and ideas about inequitable land distribution, social (in)justice and vestiges of ‘poor’ legislation and land tenure in Scotland are contingent on readings of history. Scotland, in resonance with many postcolonial nations around the world, is dealing with a landownership system designed to extract wealth at scale. It does so whilst ensuring the majority of rural folks struggle to make a living from the land but are forced to rely on the largely urban wage economy. Certainly, land reform is not about returning to an idealised agrarian past, but instead about making sure landownership meets contemporary cultural, economic, environmental and social challenges. However, to know how best to restructure landownership we must interrogate and recognise the historical processes that brought us to this point. We cannot know the best and most equitable and ‘sustainable’ path forward if we do not know where we have come from.

As Scotland reimagines its land reform future, it must note that its struggles for community land reform are not isolated from political and economic dynamics happening elsewhere in the world, including the global tide of ‘land grabbing’.  Land reform cannot be separated from the question of ‘power’ and ‘politics’ in society at large

This year’s conference accentuates a need by land activists, academics and communities to look elsewhere across the globe to find common cause and to build coalitions towards formulating strategies and solutions to community land struggles and community-led development in Scotland.

The full text of the blog is available below.


Dr Atenchong Talleh Nkobou is Senior Lecturer International Rural Development, Royal Agricultural University and Principal Investigator Reversing the Gaze: Knowledge Stories and the Struggles for Community Land Rights in Scotland


Dr Josh Doble is Policy Manager at Community Land Scotland, Honorary Fellow at University of Edinburgh and Community Land Expert on Reversing the Gaze