It is one of the country’s largest constituencies, covering a total area of 4,600 square miles, but is also among the least populated in the UK.

Now a Highland constituency has been found to have the joint highest number of community-owned assets in Scotland, according to a new government report.

As of December 2018, Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch had 79 community assets owned by 58 different groups.

While Argyll and Bute had the same number of assets, its neighbour to the north boasted ownership over a much wider area - nearly 24,000 hectares compared to only 5,500.

The figure for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch also marks an increase of over 1,000 hectares over the past 18 months.

In terms of land mass, the Western Isles (142,132 hectares) dwarfs the combined Highland region (60,042 hectares), as the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency has 63 community-owned assets by 40 groups.

Across Scotland there has been an increase in community-land ownership, but the national total - 209,810 hectares - makes up less than three per cent of the total land area of the country.

The SNP’s Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said she was “encouraged” to see that her constituency has the joint highest number of community-owned assets in Scotland, adding: “I sincerely hope the increase in community land ownership will continue.”

She said: “Land reform is a means to an end – an end where communities are in control of their own destinies. Time and time again I see examples of communities being thrown this way and that because they don’t have a stake in a significant local initiative, in local land or in other local assets.

“But, equally, community ownership itself is never the final destination. It is about what you do with land reform or community ownership that really matters. To achieve that, we’ve got to support communities with the expertise, guidance and advice they need.

“For the Highlands to thrive, we need to support interventions that will really act as a catalyst for a thriving population. That has got to include land reform, but that has got to go in tandem with other forms of support. If land reform is the bedrock, then housing, infrastructure and connectivity are the building blocks of a sustainable community.

“Every community is different, and the notion of community ownership means that local owners can respond to local need. In some communities, they’ve been doing that for years. Elsewhere, they are just starting.”

A champion of land reform as a means to unlock the potential of communities and help stem the depopulation of Highland areas, Ms Forbes addressed the Community Land Scotland conference in June, telling delegates that, while land reform is well supported in terms of financial and legal powers, the volunteers who spearhead changes need support, training and guidance.

In August, the first community-owned school in the constituency was opened by John Swinney.

Strontian Primary School, on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in the Highlands, was built after the community of around 400 people rejected Highland Council’s plans to improve their old primary school building.

Local residents raised around £34,000 towards the project, with cash coming from the community-owned hydro scheme as well as donations.

The school building was jointly funded by a commercial loan from Triodos Bank, a payment for tenants’ works from Highland Council, a community share offer which raised more than £155,000, and £80,000 in grants from the Scottish Land Fund and Foundation Scotland.

The community buy-out of Eigg, in the Inner Hebrides, saw a trust take ownership of the 9km by 5km island in 1997 after paying £1.5 million, aided by a £1m gift from an anonymous donor. The success of the community ownership now serves as a model for other islands after it hit a population milestone 20 years after the buyout.