Video: Who are Scotland's biggest landowners?

One half of Scottish land belongs to group of just 432 owners. Do Eigg and Ulva hold the keys to community ownership?

Scotland has 144 estateslarger than 10,000 acres

This week, Nicola Sturgeon used her SNP Party Conference speech to announce the island of Ulva’s successful community buyout.

The North West Mull Community Trust were approved to bid for the 4,500-acre island off the coast of Mull, 20 years after Eigg islanders successfully bought out their own community.

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Around 50 per cent of Scotland belongs to 432 owners, perhaps painting the picture of the most uneven distribution of land ownership anywhere in the western world.

Scotland has 144 estateslarger than 10,000 acres

Just 16 of that number own 10 per cent of the country, according to research by activist and Green party MSP Andy Wightman.

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Scotland has 144 estates larger than 10,000 acres. Many are owned by Earls and Dukes, charities and trusts. Balmoral is owned by the Queen and some are still owned by the descendants of ancient Scottish clans, but at the top of the table a handful own more than 1 million acres between them.

Richard Scott, The Duke of Buccleuch, lays claim to more than 225,000 acres around the country across only a handful of estates.

Scotland has 144 estateslarger than 10,000 acres

Hot on his heels is Danish fashion mogul Anders Holch Povlsen, who’s Scottish land purchase of the 42,000-acre Glenfeshie estate in 2006 was the first of many investments. Today, he’s estimated to own 218,000 acres at 11 estates across the country.

Of course, these numbers might be outdated or inaccurate. One persistent problem that exists is the absence of a complete land registry, something the Scottish government has slowly been moving towards during their Holyrood leadership.

Conservation charities and trusts can be included in the 432 owners, with the likes of John Muir Trust, The National Trust of Scotland and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) all caring after between 60,000 and 192,000 acres.

The Scottish government pledged to return one million acres of private land back to the public by 2020.

Half a million acres are now in public ownership, but even if the government meet their target of one million, it will still leave 95 per cent of Scotland privately owned.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 were the first inroads the SNP government has made to land reform, with particular emphasis on community ownership.

Nationwide land reform is an ambitious plan set in motion by the nationalist government, but both landowners and communities will be watching on to see if it bares fruit.