Introduction of crofting to any new National Park

We propose that any new National Park should - if not already within the crofting areas - be designated as an area for the creation of new crofts under the provisions of the Crofting Reform Act (2007). Having a Park with defined boundaries provides an ideal opportunity to expand crofting on a pilot basis, and is particularly appropriate given the likely changes that will come with Park status, which we expand on further below. We further consider that the 2 existing National Parks, where crofting is currently available in parts of both but in neither over the whole extent of the Park, should have crofting extended within them, using the same legislative provisions, to provide consistency across both such that crofting is available anywhere in the current National Parks.

Why the contribution is important

Crofting is recognised for its contribution to rural land management: retaining population; preserving cultural heritage; and contributing to sensitive and sustainable land management, often creating the iconic landscapes we recognise today. All these attributes have potential to be of significant value in a new National Park. In addition, while the creation of a new National Park will bring benefits, it will also bring added pressures, not least in terms of access to land, and access to affordable housing. Crofting is ideally placed to address both challenges by offering a regulated framework of land tenure which includes housing within the model. Crofting law and regulation provides many of the safeguards which people would wish to see in a National Park in respect of a duty to properly use - and importantly, not misuse - the land. Finally, woodland crofts are a particular variation of the crofting model where crofting is based primarily on the management of woodlands. If a new National Park were to be created in a well-forested part of Scotland, eg Galloway or the south of Scotland, woodland crofts would be an ideal way to enable people to live and work in the forest whilst providing very high quality management. Such high quality forest management can only enhance the Park's woodland environment, in terms of biodiversity, landscape, cultural values & local economic development.

by WoodlandCroftsPartnership on May 25, 2022 at 11:36AM

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Based on: 12 votes

Comments

  • Posted by Prentice May 25, 2022 at 14:13

    Great idea
  • Posted by niallmacleod June 01, 2022 at 07:25

    Having just attended the local community council meeting where we unanimously voted to apply for National Park status for Loch Awe and as a croft owner and croft grazings manager I very much support the creation of "Woodland Crofts" The portion of rank and unused old grazings around many villages is an odd legacy from our past economic, historic and political pressures. New initiatives to boost the creation and management of woodland Crofts is more dynamic than what has gone before! correctly managed through the Crofting Commission and especially in areas empowered by National Park status this initiative will go some way to repopulating the often empty rural Scottish Landscape.
  • Posted by croftercowrie June 05, 2022 at 17:30

    I'm afraid I think this is unwise: crofting legislation is burdensome, and needs a comprehensive overhaul (or crofting needs to be scrapped altogether). Establishing crofts in a non-crofting county might cause friction. Planting woodland crofts indiscriminately on land which could be put to better use is misguided. For instance: my parents' (and grandfather's) home was very near Loch Awe. The croft was compulsorily purchased by the then Forestry Commission as part of Inverliever Forest (it was never planted, and was sold on to the Church of Scotland). Latterly, my dad bought back some of the land. When my parents died, there was no problem passing on the house and smallholding to my three siblings and me. By contrast, I stay and work on a croft (in Wester Ross). Leaving the decrofted house to our daughters is straight forward; passing the tenancy of the croft, when there are no jobs in the area to entice one of our daughters home, means that everything we've built up here is unlikely to survive: most likely a wealthy buyer will turn it into a big garden. The reason there are neglected crofts is because many rural areas desperately need fulfilling jobs -- not just menial holiday-house-cleaning ones. The Crofting Commission doesn't have sufficient power to tackle the issue of absentee crofters effectively, but I find I cannot object to tenancy applications by local youngsters, who have had to quit the area in order to find work in Inverness. Also, due to historic subsidies for tree-planting on crofts, this area has penny packets of truly worthless, scabby forestry, which is probably not worth felling. Trees need long-term management. So be careful what you wish for: I believe that smallholdings and allotments, and larger, managed, areas of woodland are way more preferable than crofts. But above all, decent jobs in rural areas should be a priority over another National Park.
  • Posted by glasach June 05, 2022 at 17:34

    Excellent idea. This would enable more local people to stay and make a living in the area they grew up.
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