​SCOTLAND’S Energy and Environment Minister, Gillian Martin, has praised new figures from the Crofting Commission showing a significant increase in new entrants to crofting.

More than 500 people joined the sector in the year to March 2023. This marked a five-year high and reflects the growing interest in this unique land tenure system, particularly among younger generations.

Key findings included: 510 new entrants to crofting in 2022-23; 45% of new entrants were women; 29% of new entrants were aged under 41. New entrants span all crofting counties across Scotland.

Martin said: “I am delighted to see, yet again, that the Crofting Commission is reporting a healthy number of new entrants into crofting. Attracting and providing opportunities for new crofters is critical to the sector’s future.

“It is pleasing to note that 46% of new entrants are women and 29% are aged under 41, and it is encouraging to see such a healthy number of new people embracing crofting. This is testament to the vibrancy and potential of this sector.

“And I am particularly pleased to see more women and young people getting involved.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting crofting and its role in rural communities. We will continue to work closely with the Crofting Commission to create opportunities for new entrants.

“I look forward to visiting new crofters and witnessing firsthand how crofting contributes to the economic and social fabric of the Highlands and Islands.”

Malcolm Matheson, convenor of the Crofting Commission, said: “These figures are not just encouraging, they represent a shot in the arm for rural communities facing depopulation challenges.

“It’s clear that crofting continues to offer exciting opportunities for people seeking a rewarding and sustainable lifestyle.”

The Crofting Commission regulates more than 21,000 crofts across Scotland. It supports new entrants through development and grazing teams, and oversees the creation of new crofts, including recent woodland crofts on the Isle of Mull.

The commission says anyone interested in being a crofter should in the first instance contact the Scottish land matching service, an independent body that offers those looking to become farmers, small- holders or crofters an opportunity to formally register their interest.