A new post has been set up to help community landowners in the Outer Hebrides coordinate their recovery from the Covid pandemic.
Community Land Outer Hebrides (CLOH) had advertised for a development manager to develop opportunities in the area where more than 75% of the population now live on community-owned land.
CLOH was established as a formal consortium of community land trusts in January after sharing best practice and knowledge for long-term sustainability in a series of network meetings since 2016. It includes long-running social enterprises, newly-formed land trusts and groups at the pre-purchase stage.
CLOH said community land trusts are integral to discussions on renewal and recovery post-Covid. Community Land Scotland also believes community ownership of land and other resources can help deliver climate benefits.
Lisa Maclean, chair of CLOH and chief executive of the Galson Estate Trust in Lewis, said the group is keen to explore opportunities in tourism, heritage, transport and energy. “The development manager post is really going to help the group to progress.
“We’ve managed for four years with an informal network and we see so many opportunities as a consortium of community landowners in the Outer Hebrides for working together. We also face some quite unique issues in our region and believe the knowledge sharing is a really important part of that.
“We realise every community land trust is unique and there’s no question that they will retain their own identity, but we hope CLOH can enhance their capacity.
“A new development manager in place will help to establish the new organisation and help us to explore the opportunities. We face different times due to the pandemic and CLOH could be one very useful vehicle to support recovery through increased collaboration.
“We are looking someone with lots of energy who is willing to work with us to progress the vision we have for CLOH. It’s an exciting opportunity and will mean working with many communities land trusts across the islands.”
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is providing £118,640 to support the employment of the CLOH development manager post for three years. Applications are being sought by March 26.
Kathleen Stewart, HIE’s head of enterprise support in Stornoway, said: “With over 75% of the population in the Outer Hebrides living on community-owned land, the establishment of CLOH as an umbrella organisation is an exciting development that reflects the maturity and collaboration within the sector.
“The development officer role will help the trusts become stronger, more robust organisations, and explore new commercial opportunities that build more resilient communities. This will be a key role in strengthening population on the islands.
“We are very pleased to support this role for the next three years and look forward to continuing to work with CLOH.”