Land tenure and forestry in Scotland : a socio-legal study with particular reference to crofter forestry
This thesis explores the relationship between land tenure and land use, and specifically, the involvement in woodland management of tenants holding land under crofting tenure in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. In the early 1990s, several changes to the social and political context of land use in Scotland were occurring. Forestry policy began to reflect growing environmental concerns; agricultural policy encouraged diversification of land use and farm incomes; and changes to land tenure were being proposed and debated, with crofting tenure taking a prominent place. Tenancy as legal and social relations, and the way in which law is constructed and interpreted are explored. A socio-legal approach was used, drawing on the perspectives of sociology and geography of law. A combination of qualitative methods were used, including in-depth interviews with tenants and with staff of a range of organisations, questionnaires, and analysis of public records, legislation, judicial decisions and the press. Applications by tenants throughout Scotland for planting grants were taken as a starting point. Of the relatively small number of such applications, it was found that the vast majority of tenants involved in woodland schemes were crofters. Two types of crofter initiative were seen, those by households and those by villages on common grazings. These were investigated, in order to explain their type and geographical distribution, reflecting both the regulatory framework and the state of community life and crofting. Improving the environment and the benefits of shelter and fencing, rather than timber production, were the main motivations, reflecting the opportunities given by the changes in forestry policy. Unlike agricultural tenants, crofters' status as tenants was not seen as an obstacle that had to be overcome, and there are many other reasons why crofters do not become involved in woodland. In general, though, their legal rights are of little concern to crofters until a conflict arises. A small minority of village schemes, however, ran foul of the legislative provision that landlords must give consent.