"Advocates of community ownership say the model is also a powerful way to
address the climate emergency. Across Scotland, community landowners have not
only installed wind farms but planted forests and restored carbon-guzzling
peatlands. And because the money—assets, government grants, and income from
tourism and energy generation—stays in community hands, the model can meet
social needs as well, says Fraser Stewart, a public-policy researcher at the
University of Strathclyde.
Rural communities are not the only landowners in Scotland with an eye on the
land’s potential. Over the past year, several foreign and domestic corporations
have purchased vast estates, hoping to offset their carbon emissions or sell
carbon offsets to others. In 2020, the Scottish brewery BrewDog announced plans
for ecotourism, reforestation, and peatland restoration on the
more-than-9,000-acre estate it had recently purchased in the Scottish
Highlands. In September 2021, the financial-services company Standard Life
bought its own carbon-offsetting Highlands estate, angling for a head start
against rising decarbonization costs. Three months later, Aviva—another
financial-services company—announced a similar plan.
Alongside these corporate “green lairds,” wealthy individuals are buying large
properties in hopes of restoring wilderness and regenerating carbon sinks.
Magnus Davidson, a rural-economy researcher at the University of the Highlands
and Islands, says some of these millionaires and billionaires are collecting
trophies much like traditional lairds, the only difference being that the new
trophies are forests and peatlands instead of hunting and fishing souvenirs.
Other new owners aim to profit by managing the land for carbon storage and
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics