The launch of the Community and Crofting Community Right to Buy provisions mark a significant step in delivering the executive's land reform programme, according to rural development minister Allan Wilson.
Crofting communities can now buy the land where they work and live. These rights are included in Parts 2 and 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act and commence.
The minister also announced that the Forestry Commission Scotland would be consulting on a new scheme which would allow communities to bid to buy national forest land provided they can ensure the purchase will benefit the community and is in the wider public interest.
Allan Wilson said: 'The rights we are launching today are a significant landmark in the executive's land reform programme. More importantly, they are a major step forward for rural communities the length and breadth of Scotland.
'They will lead to increased diversity in the way land is owned and used, increased community involvement and confident communities determining for themselves the way forward.
'Increasing the population threshold from 3,000 to 10,000 under the Community Right to Buy means that many more communities now have the opportunity to benefit from the legislation and to determine their own future. I am pleased that the Scottish Land Fund has also increased its population threshold for defining its eligible funding areas to 10,000.
'Land reform is a major achievement of the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament. It is central to the development of our rural areas. I am delighted today to deliver right to buy legislation that fundamentally extends the opportunities available to our local communities.'
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on January 23 and received Royal Assent on 23 February last year.
The Community Right to Buy in Part Two of the Act provides an opportunity for community bodies representing rural areas to register an interest in and buy land when it comes to be sold.
The Crofting Community Right to Buy in Part Three allows crofting communities to buy croft land at any time.