This paper was presented at the New Forest Knowledge Conference 2018 entitled: The Role of Commoning in the Maintenance of Landscape and Ecology: A New Forest, National and Global Perspective.
Julia Aglionby, Foundation for Common Land
The positive contribution of commoning was recognised in the Charter of the Forest in 1217 as providing essential livelihood needs for a large proportion of society and hence was enshrined in law to protect these rights. Over 800 years the role of commons has changed considerably but they are no less important to society just used differently. Commons are now a remnant of what they are having been reduced to only 3% of England but are disproportionately important. 21% of our SSSIs are common land, 39% of our Open Access Land is Common Land and 12% of our scheduled ancient monuments are on commons. Commons are looked after by 3900 commoners and it is commoning that maintains these public benefits. Public policy over the last fifty years has though imposed significant challenges on this positive narrative which cannot be taken for granted. In planning future policy commoners require appropriate support both in terms of facilitating governance and reward for the provision of these benefits to ensure the continued positive contribution. The Foundation for Common Land is working closely with government to shape a positive future for commoning.