This year’s annual Community Land Week celebrates 10 of the many projects in Scotland which were acquired during the pandemic, against all odds.
One of these is Pairc Trust which acquired the Kershader Resource Centre in January 2021 in the heart of Covid challenges, lockdowns and the rest.
The length and breadth of Scotland, community groups will be celebrating the steps they took to take ownership of land and assets in their areas and the benefits which have derived for the people in their local communities as a result.
The Pairc Trust was established in 2003 and completed purchase of the Pairc Estate in December 2015. “Our long term vision is to reverse a century of population decline in South Lochs, by providing additional local jobs, more affordable good housing, and improved community facilities to improve the quality of life for all local residents,” says Fiona Stokes, estate office manager.
The Pairc Estate extends to an area of approximately 10,840ha. In total, there are 213 crofts on the estate, spread between 11 townships. The estate is mainly hilly moorland with a large number of fresh water lochs. The community consists of around 400 residents plus a number of others who manage crofts in the area.
“We purchased the Kershader Resource Centre building for the existing users - community groups within Pairc - one of which is the charity Pairc Playgroup. They will have been operating for 25 years in 2022, and we’re holding a Pre-Birthday Party for them. We’re inviting the community to join us for cakes and tea and coffee and have asked people to RSVP to the invitation so that we can make the event Covid-Safe” continues Fiona Stokes.
Addressing climate change, the group will be investigating whether peatland restoration projects can be achieved on the estate’s common grazings.
“When communities purchase the land on which their people live and work, they have the tools to reinvigorate their areas and improve the prospects of future generations,” comments Linsay Chalmers development manager at Community Land Scotland, organisers of Community Land Week, (CLW).
Chair of the Scottish Land Fund, Cara Gillespie added: “The Scottish Land Fund has long been a supporter of Community Land Week- a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all things community ownership. This year ten resilient projects, all of which have received Scottish Land Fund backing, will open their doors to the public. This is a chance to hear first-hand about the challenges and opportunities ownership brings but even more so a chance to celebrate the power of collective community action.”
Linsay continued: “With all the challenges thrown up by the pandemic we decided to celebrate this year’s CLW with 10 of the many projects which took ownership during all the challenges of COVID. This week of celebration is justly deserved.
"Community land purchase is the start of a long journey often to reverse many years of decline. The purchase quickly stimulates confidence which empowers communities to develop economic opportunities, building on a growing awareness of environment and heritage to enliven the social life of its people.”
Community Land Scotland was set up in 2010 to influence policy to make it easier for communities to buy land, to help its members share knowledge and information, and to encourage communities to consider landownership and to promote the benefits of community landownership to Scotland.
Community Land Scotland represents existing and aspiring community landowners to reflect their views in promoting changes to legislation to empower communities.
Community Land Week is organised by Community Land Scotland in partnership with Scottish Government.