Unit 3


The Highland Clearances

After the clan system broke down, tenant farmers in the Highlands no longer had secure access to the land which they depended on for their food, shelter and livelihoods.

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Land Grabs Today

Today, thousands of poor communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America are facing a similar scenario to the Highland Clearances as foreign governments, investors and companies rush to buy up large areas of land to grow food and fuel and for speculation.

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The causes and consequences of land grabbing

Agricultural landscape

During the Highland Clearances, thousands of people were forced off the land that had been in their families for generations. People lost their source of food, their  homes, belongings, and livelihoods.

The land which had been tied closely to their culture and identity was removed from them to make way for more profitable agricultural activities. Today, a similar scenario is happening in many rural communities in developing countries, as people are evicted from their food producing lands to make way for a new wave of large-scale agricultural projects.

Painting of highland clearances

A new trend of ‘land grabbing’ has emerged with thousands of hectares of land being sold or leased to foreign governments and businesses to produce biofuel and food to fulfil the growing needs of industrialised countries.

Activity Guide

Activity 3a - Eviction

3.1 and 3.2 introduce the issue of the forced movement of people from their land. For most people, leaving their homes, often very quickly, can be a very painful and stressful experience. The activities within this section draw parallels between the eviction experiences of Scots in the past and those encountered by communities during land grabs today, and enable students to develop empathy for those who are forced to flee their homes.

Activity 3b- Migration

3.3, 3.4 and 3.5  continue to look at the movement of people. For people who are displaced from their land their only option is migration, often into cities or overseas in order to meet their basic needs. The short activities within this section encourage students to consider the issue of migration from the perspective of Scots in the past and those who are displaced from their land today.

Activity 3c- Land Grabs and Biofuels

The majority of recent land grabs in poor countries have been for the production of biofuels for export to industrialised countries. The activities within this section focus on the issue of land use for biofuel production using a case study from Guatemala.

Activity 3.6

This uses the development compass rose as a framework to begin an investigation into land grabs for biofuel production.

Activity 3.7

This uses a role play format to encourage students to consider the struggle of unequal powers which often occurs during land grabs and the impact which land grabs have on people and the environment.

Activity 3.8

This encourages students to use an issues tree as a tool to consolidate what they have learned about land grabs within this section and also provides an source of evidence for learning.