Community Land Trusts
: resilient in a crisis and a potential model for local development in the Outer Hebrides

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by UHI)


This study looks at the resilience of Community Land Trusts in the Outer Hebrides and whether they can be seen as a model for sustainable local development.
The evidence gathered for the study indicates that for some communities in the Outer Hebrides, a Community Land Trust has delivered significant community and economic development by providing jobs, community-based initiatives, and a greater sense of confidence amongst the residents of the estate.
Study data was gathered from twenty in-depth semi-structured interviews during the Covid-19 pandemic, providing a unique opportunity to consider the resilience of the Land Trusts in an emergency situation. The data was reviewed using a thematic analysis and further analysed using the Community Capitals Framework to test the theory of Emery and Flora (2006), which considers whether the strength of these capitals as a good indicator of how well communities are developing in a sustainable manner. The study established the significance of the strength of social and human capital in securing enhanced resilience in the Land Trusts.
The Trusts provided leadership in the establishment of emergency networks to deliver services like food and prescriptions, as well as ensuring social contact was maintained through online events. Additionally, the study established a connection between the land, indigenous communities, and the survival of the Gaelic language. Where the Land Trusts do not always have similar responses to these challenges, the study established their ability to react to the views of their communities in a robust manner.
The study revealed the future of Community Land Trusts in the Outer Hebrides was linked strongly to interdependencies between the Trusts, the local authority, and other external agencies, including the Scottish Government. The research indicated that the Trusts were developing a stronger, more cohesive voice in what has become a complex economic and community development environment.
Date of Award1 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of the Highlands and Islands
SupervisorFrank Rennie (Supervisor) & Gareth Davies (Supervisor)

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