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Good Practice blog

Sally Reynolds

Following the launch of our Good Practice Programme, Land Commissioner Sally Reynolds shares her thoughts on community engagement and the importance of good practice in land use and management:

I consider community engagement to be a vital part of day to day business for modern land owners and land managers. But like many processes it can sometimes be difficult to know just how to go about it. When we developed our first protocol on this topic earlier this year it met with a ready audience. It has already been used by large estates and sector bodies to bring clarity and consensus into how they manage land.

More protocols are to come and, crucially, we have now expanded our offering to create our ‘good practice programme’ backed by a straightforward, online resource that will encourage and enable those with an interest in land to recognise and fulfil their rights and responsibilities in practical ways. It includes not only protocols (the next two will be on ‘transparency in relation to land ownership and management’ and another on ’land ownership by private trusts’) but also toolkits, training, background research and other materials to help anyone working with and for the land – owners, managers, communities and individuals – to achieve best results.

The Commission sees this good practice programme as a way to drive the culture change needed to make more of Scotland’s land, but we are not creating it alone. There are many voices that will make our programme a valuable resource, so we have set up a good practice advisory group which includes representatives from Community Land Scotland, Development Trusts Association Scotland, National Farmers Union Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and the Scottish Property Federation alongside myself as a Land Commissioner and the Good Practice Team at the Commission.

The advisory group will help to define the topics for protocols, guidance and training. They will be key to developing a programme that will strengthen relationships between everyone with an interest in land and property.

Scotland faces key challenges, including climate action, productivity and maintaining a fair economy. Decisions about land ownership, use and management are central to these, and will only increase in importance over time. We want this programme to be a practical resource that becomes a valued reference point for landowners, land managers and communities. It will focus on a wide range of issues including support for compliance with existing and forthcoming land reform legislation.

The programme provides guidance on the practical implementation of the Scottish Government’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement (LRRS), setting out clear expectations of what ought to happen in normal circumstances. The protocols will guide people and organisations in supporting change and good practice alongside case studies, with explainers and topic papers.

I hope promoting and sharing good practice will allow us to develop capacity and confidence in good practice among those with an interest in land in both rural and urban Scotland.