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International Experience

The world has never seemed smaller and learnings from international experience have never seemed more relevant. The Scottish Land Commission is looking at international experience of land ownership and use to apply learning to Scotland. Is there such a concept as ‘normal’ community ownership, in Scotland, or anywhere? In-depth international case studies inform our research into ownership, raising new ideas and thinking – not just about community ownership, but our wider approach to the governance of land ownership, use, and rights in Scotland. 

From our research into how other countries support community ownership, 'Review of International Experience of Community, Communal and Municipal Ownership of Land,' and its accompanying Land Focus paper, we have explored a number of detailed case studies spanning a wide variety of topic areas, from a host of countries across the globe. This report provides a much wider and deeper understanding of land ownership, use, and management approaches in other countries and jurisdictions and clearly answers the question of what 'normal' community ownership looks like – there’s no such thing.

Below are four case studies from France, Germany, Mexico and Norway – exploring forestry, housing, agriculture, and community ownership, respectively – drawn from the report and highlighted here to give a differing perspective on these key land ownership, use and management areas. For more case studies, including the USA, South Africa, Canada and Kenya, please read the full report

Case Studies

France – Municipal management of collective ownership structures

In France, there is a core distinction between forest land and ‘other’ land (i.e. rural lands, farm land, etc.) which dates back to the French Revolution. In 2001, a new ‘Forest Law’ was passed in France, which introduced the expectation of forest owners to implement multifunctional forest plans, including responsibilities for providing access and environmental protection.

Germany – Municipal landownership and administration

The non-profit sector has a long tradition in Germany and it takes on greater significance for society, politics and economy than in many other countries. More recently, there has been growing concern about the need to change how public land is owned and administered, particularly in the current context of high demand for land and affordable housing in urban areas.

Mexico – Communal agrarian tenure (Ejido system)

Mexico has a long history of development of policies with regards to land tenure. One example is ejidos, now effectively a form of social and private property that contain a mix of individually parcelled land (made possible by the 1992 reform) and some land which is held and used communally.

Norway – Municipal ownership and commonage

The history of common landownership and governance in Norway is extensive and predates legal structures, but it is considered to have fostered a ‘co-owner’ agrarian system and society.