A CALL has been made for a fundamental shift in land use in Scotland to put communities at the heart of change.

It comes from senior figures in the community buy-out and rewilding movements who argue that greenwashing by companies chasing carbon credits is threatening both social justice and genuine rewilding efforts.

Instead, they want land reform and rewilding campaigners to work together to revitalise communities and ecosystems.

The appeal for an alliance has been sounded by Ailsa Raeburn, chair of both Community Land Scotland and Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, together with Kevin Cumming of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, who is both Rewilding Britain director and vice-chair of the Langholm Initiative which led south Scotland’s largest community buy-out.

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In an opinion piece for the Sunday National, they argue there is a “growing imperative” for Scotland’s land reform and rewilding movements to explore their “extensive” common ground.

“That common ground includes an understanding that nature is our life support system and that people and land are vital national assets,” they say. “Community-led nature restoration is essential and should be supported and increased – ideally on land communities themselves own or manage.”

Both nature and people can be supported by rewilding which is most successful and resilient when community-led or when there is significant community involvement from the start, according to Raeburn and Cumming.

They point out that just 3% of rural land in Scotland is community owned even though the Eigg and Langholm buyouts have been “transformative” and “inspiring”.

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Scotland needs to “shift the dial” to enable more community buyouts as they can increase community wealth, land resilience and investment in local businesses.

“This contrasts with widespread decline of communities and nature under Scotland’s history of concentrated private land ownership and extractive economic practices,” according to Raeburn and Cumming.

Scotland would thrive better, say Cumming and Raeburn, if the Gaelic word Dúthchas was embraced as it recognises how deeply people, the land, nature and culture are intertwined.