Re-writing the rulebook of landownership: analysing and assessing the economics of community landownership

Project Details


A knowledge exchange research project to develop full understanding of the economic structures and outcomes of community ownership. It will first capture and describe the current model that is community landowning, its features and values, and how it functions. It will then develop a rigorous set of criteria for the appraisal of the economic performance of community-owned land. The innovation focus of this project comes, therefore, in both the area of study and the structure of the activities. There will be both policy and practice outcomes from this project.

Layman's description

Evaluating the economic and cultural worth of community land ownership.

Key findings

Firstly, although by no means definitively, we have been able to move towards a description of what community landowning is, and what its characteristics and values are (see attached documentation); and that it differs from most other models of landowning (i.e. private, governmental, NGO) due to its governance systems and philosophies/aims.
 Secondly, the project was initially intended to focus primarily on the economic indicators for measuring success (as per our project title); however, as discussions with the CLS membership developed it became clear that they saw their purpose and functions in much broader terms. We have tried to reflect this is our criteria document, organising it along four themes – economic, social, environmental and governance. Essentially, the insight learned was that community landowning cannot be defined purely in economic or financial terms, or indeed through traditional models of landownership.
 Thirdly, one of the key insights derived from this project has been the difficulty/opportunity of setting up an assessment system for a sector which contains a great deal of variation within it. Some community landowners are multi-million pound commercial operations; others are small crofting estates; others still are a few acres of community woodland. Developing a set of assessment criteria that are general or flexible enough to apply to all sizes/maturity-age, while remaining specific enough to be genuinely useful was one of the key challenges of the project.
Short titleRe-writing the rulebook of landownership
Effective start/end date1/04/169/09/16

Collaborative partners


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