The Roots of the People: an Investigation of the Influence of Community Landownership in Scotland on Environmental Narratives.
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Scotland hosts the most concentrated pattern of private land ownership in Europe, with sporting estates covering 43% of rural land. In the last two decades a growing land reform movement, advocating greater power over land use and greater diversity of land ownership, has led to the rapid expansion of community landownership, with local people now owning approximately 500,000 acres of some of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes. This governance model is rooted in narratives of sustainability and has been embraced by the current Scottish Government, leading to the building of new political momentum. Research in the past has focused on the economic and social impacts of community landownership. Therefore, this study considers the third pillar of sustainability: environmental responsibility. Through consideration of three framing narratives finding common expression in land reform and land use debates, an investigation was made of four community landowning areas to establish the influence of this transformative change. Results showed that community landownership contains the potential to recast relations with the environment by introducing a new pluralistic narrative of interpretation. This new narrative favours open, accountable, local governance and provides opportunities for broadening partnerships, leading to an approach to environmental management and land use characterised by its diversity and renewed confidence.