Climate action matters: just ask The Scottish Land Fund

As the world’s eyes rest on Scotland in the lead up to and during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), local communities are already making changes that will leave an indelible mark on our climate footprint.

Amongst them are those projects that have community ownership at their heart and have been supported by the Scottish Land Fund.

This Community Land Week, we take a closer look at three of these projects and how they are playing their part in tackling the climate emergency.

The Unst Partnership Ltd, Shetland

A woman standing in front of the Unst Partnership shop entrance holding a watering can.
Melanie Mouat was the 10,000th customer to go through the doors of the Unst Partnership’s community owned shop bagging herself a selection of gardening items

With no dedicated recycling facility for household and commercial waste, the community of Unst in Shetland took matters into their own hands in 2018. Thanks to a Scottish Land Fund award of £38,496, The Unst Partnership Ltd was able to purchase its existing premises from which it now runs a skip scheme and second-hand shop, owned and operated by members of the community.

Playing their role in combatting climate change, the project allows residents to donate and buy unwanted goods instead of them going to landfill.

Reflecting on the environmental benefits, Sarah MacBurnie from The Unst Partnership Ltd, said: “Since we opened the shop three years ago, we have taken at least £1,000 every month with people donating and purchasing preloved but unwanted goods. The existing Skip Scheme had been a huge success since it’s start up about six year ago and has had people thinking more about how poor waste management impacts the environment. We are now considering plans to create a bigger premises with a workshop where we can also upcycle items instead of them going to landfill.”

Westray Development Trust, Orkney

Locally grown produce growing in a field with polytunnels
Westray Development Trust bought this parcel of land for community growing thanks to an award from the Scottish Land Fund

As an island off mainland Orkney, Westray was once affected by a shortage of affordable, fresh fruit and vegetables that came with being at the end of a long food supply chain. That was until a grant of £16,800 from the Scottish Land Fund allowed the Westray Development Trust to purchase a parcel of land for community growing.

Explaining how the project has reduced the local climate footprint, Isobel Thompson, Operations Manager, Westray Development Trust says: “Within 95 days of planting the first seeds, we were supplying local shops with tomatoes with the minimum of food miles and at the minimum cost we could. Two of the island shops are within walking distance of the community garden and the third is less than 5 miles away. The produce barely stayed on the shelves for more than a few hours.

“Supplying the produce in non-plastic, compostable packaging means we are also reducing the environmental impact of the community consuming the produce. The land has also enabled us to develop a fund-raising shop, which is managed by community groups for community groups with great success. The shop helps reduce waste locally with the donated books, clothing, etc. finding new homes all while raising funds for community activities.”

Carradale Community Trust, Argyll and Bute

In August 2019 an award of £13,960 meant that the Carradale Community Trust in Argyll and Bute was able to bring into community ownership almost 5 acres of Seneval Woodland including a garden waste and composting site.

Tony Leighton, Chair of Carradale Community Trust, said: “The Carradale Community Composting Centre is part of a range of efforts to lower the environmental footprint of our very small community.  We are continuing to develop the project, which not only can turn waste into compost, but can also eliminate the 25 plus mile journey to the nearest other disposal site.” 

Funded by the Scottish Government, the Scottish Land Fund is delivered by The National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. As well as helping communities to become more sustainable and resilient through community ownership, it has also helped bring additional environmental benefits, as Scottish Land Fund Chair Cara Gillespie explains:

“Community ownership brings many benefits including building organisational sustainability, keeping people connected with their local area and creating jobs, to name but a few. But what’s also evident from these and other projects that have come through the Scottish Land Fund doors is that community ownership can bring about environmental benefits too. From innovative local waste management systems to locally grown food reducing food miles, these projects show that, when given the opportunity to take the lead, Scottish communities have and will continue to play a vital role in tackling the climate emergency.”

To find out more about the Scottish Land Fund and the range of projects it supports visit: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/scottish-land-fund

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