Wooplaw Community Woodland Workshop, August 2007

Community ownership

Empowerment

Land ownership is a strong political motive. "…people getting a stake in the land, land belonging to them and their family for generations…" It's also a strong personal motive - "Ownership lit it up for us". Owning land is tangential to most people's lives but when you do, it's deep and powerful.

Responsibilities

On the other hand, owning land is a big decision for a community to take. Ownership means responsibility, including legal liabilities, especially with open access. Sometimes people hesitate because they just aren't used to land ownership, they don't know what to expect. "It can take a long time for a community to get used to an idea."

Alternative ways of ownership

Legal ownership isn't the be all and end all. Individuals can earn a stake in community woods through blood, sweat and tears equity: "Everyone can have shares in this woodland… you get some just by being there; more by doing and making - shares by sweat and blood…"

Stability

One reason for wanting woodland to be owned by the community, rather than a family, is to ensure stability for a long-term vision. Otherwise one person could always sell the woodland on, and a completely different management philosophy could take over.

Examples - the types of ownership represented by those present: