Event report: Community Land Scotland conference 2017

delegates at Community Land Scotland conference
Norette Ferns

Around 90 people from across Scotland gathered at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye on 30 and 31 May for the Community Land Scotland conference 2017.

The theme of this year's conference was 'Sharing the Knowledge' and with presentations, workshops and plenty of time for networking the event was a great opportunity for people to learn from each other.

David Cameron from Community Land Scotland opened the conference, highlighting the benefits of community land ownership and some of the challenges. He also emphasised that community land ownership is not just for the Highlands and Islands, and that Community Land Scotland was taking the message of community land ownership into urban areas too.

Andrew Thin gave delegates an overview of the newly formed Scottish Land Commission, which he chairs. He said their central purpose is to make more of Scotland's land for the benefit of all. You can find out more about their work and aims on the Scottish Land Commission website. They are also holding a series of Meet and Greet events across Scotland in coming months.

Next up was Morvern Gibson from South West Mull and Iona Community Trust who shared their community land ownership journey. The trust took ownership of a forest in 2015 which has given local people more say over decision making and also access to land. Two new jobs have been created in their community and there is lots going on - from the creation of woodland crofts to local primary schools using the forest regularly. Despite challenges, Morvern said the community would do it again.

Following Movern's presentation, David Cameron said this was a great example of what community land ownership is about - ordinary people in ordinary places doing extraordinary things.

Carola Bell from Galson Estate Trust, Gordon Robertson from the Assynt Foundtion and Kenny MacLennan from Carloway Estate Trust gave some great insights and examples of their work around community engagement and succession planning in a session chaired by Agnes Rennie.

Workshop topics covered a wide range of themes from forestry development and purchase to funding and developing housing to renewables.

New chair Ian Hepburn closed the conference, having been elected at the AGM the afternoon before.

The conference was a fantastic opportunity to hear from community land organisations at different stages of their development - from the very new to the more experienced - and to learn more about their inspiring successes and the challenges they face.

You can download the presentations from the conference on the Community Land Scotland website.

For tweets from the conference search for #communityland17 on Twitter.