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Community Land Scotland

Community Empowerment and Landscape

Published by Inherit and Community Land Scotland, June 2018

Community Land Scotland is pleased to have collaborated with Inherit in producing this research report on ‘Community Empowerment & Landscape’ to help inform our ongoing policy work on rural renewal and people’s legitimate place in the landscape. We see communities – and community land ownership
in particular – as having a central role to play in that process of rural renewal by linking economic development, social wellbeing and environmental sustainability in support of sustainable development.
As this report illustrates, there are currently significant institutional and other barriers to enabling landscape policy to fully contribute to sustainable rural renewal in practice. These barriers relate to ways in which landscapes are defined, characterised and designated as a matter of public policy in Scotland.

The report highlights a clear ‘participation gap’ in characterising and designating landscapes; one in which communities’ voices are, at best, marginal to that process. That matters because the application of an externally-imposed policy narrative appropriates the meanings attached to landscapes. Crucially, that
policy narrative determines dominant ideas of ‘stewardship’ and ‘sustainability’, shaping how landscapes are experienced and consumed via a range of statutory and non-statutory designations.

It’s time to change the dynamics of that external policy narrative so that the legitimacy of people’s involvement in defining and characterising the landscapes they inhabit is accepted as a matter of justice. Time, in other words, to move beyond the rhetoric of community empowerment in landscape policy
and towards making that empowerment a reality in the interests of sustainable rural renewal. Community Land Scotland therefore welcomes this report as an important contribution to helping inform that transformation in landscape policy and we look forward to working with communities and other stakeholders to make it happen in practice.