This paper explores how participants in community landownership initiatives in Scotland experience this emergent form of communal tenure and governance, set within their own narratives of sustainability. The research attempts to: i) capture individual and collective as well as convergent and divergent narratives of community landownership and management; ii) explore the sustainability credentials of this form of tenure from a theoretical perspective; and iii) identify key current barriers and opportunities for progressing sustainability in a community land context. Four in-depth case studies from the Scottish Highlands and Islands, incorporating 77 semi-structured interviews within a purposive sample of participants, provide the data within which narratives of community landownership are presented. Four key themes emerge; i) rebuilding community capacity; ii) redefining participatory governance and partnership working; iii) building a framework for economic development; and iv) reconfiguring community-natural resource relationships. The findings reveal community landownership acts as a powerful catalyst and positive agent for reconstructing rural development set within locally prescribed narratives of sustainability. Thus, community landownership is linked with a re-working of sustainability, with an emphasis on subsidiarity and legitimate governance processes set within strong conflict management and leadership attributes to maximize long-term success.
- community landownership; sustainability; rural development; Scotland