An organisation set up last year to promote sustainable communities through land ownership across Scotland has received a funding boost from HIE.
Community Land Scotland was formed last September to provide a shared voice for the increasing number of communities which now own land assets.
HIE funding of £60,000 over three years will enable the group to advance its plans to grow its membership from the present 17 to around 100 by 2015.
It will be used to pay for two part-time posts - a Networking Co-ordinator, and a Public Affairs and Representation Manager - as well as helping with running costs.
John Watt, HIE Director of Strengthening Communities, said the award recognised the important role community landowners are playing in driving up levels of population and economic participation in fragile areas in particular.
"HIE is a long-standing champion of community land and asset ownership as a means of achieving progress in some of our most challenging localities," said Mr Watt.
"The sector has come a long way since we set up a unit, now called the Community Assets Team, to provide support and advice back in 1997.
"We strongly welcomed the creation of Community Land Scotland as a positive step forward. It shows the sector is maturing and that community landowners have the capacity and ambition to act and learn together in the interests of their people.
"We hope this funding will help the new organisation establish itself as an important collective voice for a growing membership in the coming years."
David Cameron, Chairman of Community Land Scotland, said:
"The news that Community Land Scotland has been awarded £60,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise towards the development of the organisation is both welcome and timely.
"This will allow us to appoint staff and, just as important, it sends out a clear message that community landownership is recognised as having an important role to play in revitalising fragile areas of Scotland.
"This award means that Community Land Scotland will move up another gear in assisting its existing and aspiring members to realise their own ambitions. "