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Encyclopedia > Common land

Common land (a common), in England and Wales, is a piece of land over which other people—often neighbouring landowners—could exercise one of a number of traditional rights, such as allowing their cattle to graze upon it. The older texts use the word "common" to denote any such right, but more modern usage is to refer to particular rights of common, and to reserve the word "common" for the land over which the rights are exercised. By extension, the term "commons" has come to be applied to other resources which a community has rights or access to. Look up commons in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Commons in England and Wales

The fact that land is common land does not mean it has no owner—all land in England and Wales is owned by someone. Common land is land over which people other than the owner also have rights. Those who have a right of common are known as commoners—the landowner retains other rights to the land (such as rights to minerals and large timber, and to any common rights left unexercised by the commoners).

Historically most rights of common were "appurtenant" to particular plots of land, and the commoner would be the person who, for the time being, was the occupier of a particular plot of land (or in the case of turbary, even a particular hearth). Some rights of common were said to be "in gross", that is they were unconnected with ownership or tenure of land. This was more usual in regions where commons are more extensive, such as in Northern England or in the Fens, but also included many village greens across England and Wales. Most land with commons rights is adjacent to the common or even surrounded by it, but sometimes it may be some distance away. The Fens may also refer to the Back Bay Fens, a park in Boston, Massachusetts. ... The village green in Comberton in Cambridgeshire, UK, with a pond, a village sign and a bench to enjoy the view For the community in New York, see Village Green, New York. ...

Example rights of common are:

  • common pasture (right to pasture cattle, horses, sheep or other animals on the common land)
  • common piscary (the right to fish)
  • common turbary (the right to take sods of turf for fuel)
  • common in the soil (the right to take sand and gravel)
  • mast or pannage (the right to turn out pigs for a period in autumn to eat mast—acorns and other nuts)
  • estovers (the right to take sufficient wood for the commoner's house or agriculture; usually limited to smaller trees and fallen branches)

On most commons, rights of pasture and pannage for each commoner are tightly defined by number and type of animal. For example the occupier of a particular cottage might be allowed to graze a certain number of cattle, a certain number of horses or ponies, and a certain number of geese—the numbers allowed for their neighbours might be different. On some commons (such as the New Forest and adjoining commons), the rights are more general, and a fee is paid instead each year for each animal turned out. For other uses, see New Forest (disambiguation). ...

Surviving commons are almost all pasture – land used for grazing domestic animals, such as heathland, moorland or downland. In earlier times, arable farming and haymaking were also included in the commons system, with strips of land in the common fields and common meadows assigned annually by lot. When not in use for these purposes, these commons were also grazed. Heaths are anthropogenic habitats found primarily in northern and western Europe, where they have been created by thousands of years of human clearance of natural forest vegetation by grazing and burning on mainly infertile acidic soils. ... Moorland in the Pennines (England); Coarse grasses and bracken tend to dominate especially in high rainfall areas. ... A downland is an area of open chalk upland. ... Sortition, also known as allotment, is a fair method of selection by some form of lottery such as drawing coloured pebbles from a bag. ...

It is often thought that a common is somehow owned by everyone, or at least by the community in some sense. While that may have been true more than a thousand years ago, when waste would be used for grazing by the local community and over which there would not be, nor would there need to be, any particular limit or control of usage; since at least late Anglo-Saxon times, the right to exercise a right of common has been restricted to a commoner. Since the right of common would have some natural limitations itself, commons never suffered from the tragedy of the commons. Wasteland can refer to: Look up wasteland in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Tragedy of the Commons is a type of social trap, often economic, that involves a conflict over resources between individual interests and the common good. ...

The legal position concerning common land is confused. Most commons are based on ancient rights which predate the established law and even the Monarchy. The exact rights which apply to individual commons may be documented but more often are based on long held traditions. The UK government tried to regularise the definitions of common land with the Commons Registration Act 1965, which established a register of common land. However numerous inconsistencies and irregularities remain. For the documentary series, see Monarchy (TV series). ...

Prior to the Erection of Cottages Act 1588, an Englishman could build his house on common land, if he could raise the roof over his head and have a fire at the hearth between sunrise and sunset, and claim the dwelling as his home.

The act of transferring resources from the commons to individual ownership is known as enclosure or inclosure. For other uses, see Enclosure (disambiguation). ...

After the Second World War some commons became neglected because commoners, who could find better paid work in other sectors of the economy, stopped exercising their rights on commons. When this happens commons open spaces can start to revert to woodland. In 2007 Ashdown Forest (better known as the fictional Hundred Acre Wood inhabited by Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends) was the centre of a dispute between some local residents and the forest's governing body, the Board of Conservators (who are working on behalf of the owners, East Sussex County Council). The Board wish to return the area to as it was before the Second World War, a blend of heath and woodland, lost because "the advance of woodland into traditional heath areas after the Second World War, when returning soldiers gave up trying to scratch a living out of the forest. Whereas once hundreds of commoners used the wood and heath - their livestock obliging by chewing down young tree shoots - today there is only one commercial grazer."[1] The residents complain that the results look like a First World War battle field. This is not a problem restricted to this common, but according to Jonathan Brown writing in the Independent on 21 April 2007 "similar debates are raging between locals and the authorities at other heathland areas in the New Forest and Surrey".[1] Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ... A gate into Ashdown Forest at sunset Ashdown - a dark and mysterious forest Ashdown Forest in the county of East Sussex, in South East England is a large open area of heathland together with pine, birch and oak woodland in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. ... The Hundred Acre Wood is the fictional land inhabited by Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Pooh series of childrens stories by author A.A. Milne. ... Winnie the Pooh Winnie-the-Pooh is a fictional bear created by A. A. Milne. ... For the former parliamentary constituency, see East Sussex (UK Parliament constituency). ... is the 111th day of the year (112th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

Pasture commons are often a characteristic shape, with long points extending either sides of roads, and concave curved boundaries between these. Enclosures surrounded by the common are often rounded in shape, minimising the length of fencing needed.

Wider usage of the term

The word "Commons" has now come to be used in the sense of any sets of resources that a community recognizes as being accessible to any member of that community. The nature of commons is different in different communities, but they often include cultural resources and natural resources. A community is a social group of organisms sharing an environment, normally with shared interests. ...

While commons are generally seen as a system opposed to private property, they have been combined in the idea of common property, which are resources owned equally by every member of the community, even though the community recognises that only a limited number of members may use the resource at any given time. This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...

Commons are a subset of public goods; specifically meaning a public good which is not infinite. Commons can therefore be land, rivers and, arguably, money. The Commons is most often a finite but replenishable resource, which requires responsible use in order to remain available. A subset of this is a commons which requires not only responsible use but also active contribution from its users, such as a school or church funded by local donations. In economics, a public good is a good that is non-rival and non-excludable. ... For the Second World War frigate class, see River class frigate The Murray River in Australia A waterfall on the Ova da Fedoz, Switzerland A river is a large natural waterway. ... For other uses, see Money (disambiguation). ... Students in Rome, Italy. ... For the architectural structure, see Church (building). ...

In order to ensure responsibility of the users, there must be a system of management. Such models include the Hobbesian Leviathan model, where there is a central authority that monitors the behaviour of the users and can sanction abusers. There are also many other models, some of which can require no maintenance—for instance, if it is known that the collective consists mostly of contingent cooperators, then once responsible behaviour has been established, it will most likely continue without management. Another model is reputation management. This article is about the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. ... For other uses, see Leviathan (disambiguation). ... A contingent cooperator is a person or agent who is willing to act in the collective interest, rather than his short-term selfish interest, if he observes a majority of the other agents in the collective doing the same. ... Reputation management is the process of tracking an entitys actions and other entities opinions about those actions; reporting on those actions and opinions; and reacting to that report creating a feedback loop. ...

See also

Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2304x1728, 1232 KB) Boston Common. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2304x1728, 1232 KB) Boston Common. ... Image:Boston common Boston Massachusetts USA.jpg Boston Common in 2005, with the State House looming in the background 1890 Map of Boston Common and the adjacent Public Garden View of the Water Celebration, on Boston Common, October 25th 1848 Boston Common Engraving For the television series, see Boston Common... Image:Boston common Boston Massachusetts USA.jpg Boston Common in 2005, with the State House looming in the background 1890 Map of Boston Common and the adjacent Public Garden View of the Water Celebration, on Boston Common, October 25th 1848 Boston Common Engraving For the television series, see Boston Common... Nickname: City on the Hill, Beantown, The Hub (of the Universe)1, Athens of America, The Cradle of Revolution, Puritan City, Americas Walking City Location in Massachusetts, USA Counties Suffolk County Mayor Thomas M. Menino(D) Area    - City 232. ... Citizens dividend is a proposed state policy based upon the principle that the natural world is the common property of all persons (see Georgism). ... In the United Kingdom, the Crown Estate is a property portfolio associated with the monarchy. ... Inclosure (also commonly enclosure), refers to the process of subdivision of common lands for individual ownership. ... The phrase Information Commons refers to our shared knowledge-base and the processes that facilitate or hinder its use. ... View of the east end of the Commons, at the intersection of Aurora and East State streets North end of the Commons The Ithaca Commons is a two-block pedestrian mall in downtown Ithaca, New York, built in 1974. ... A property right is the exclusive authority to determine how a resource is used, whether that resource is owned by government or by individuals[1]. All economic goods have a property rights attribute. ... In the United Kingdom, rights of way are paths on which the public have a legally-protected right to travel. ... The Tragedy of the Commons is a type of social trap, often economic, that involves a conflict over resources between individual interests and the common good. ... The tragedy of the anticommons occurs when rational individuals (acting separately) collectively waste a given resource by under-utilizing it. ... The village green in Comberton in Cambridgeshire, UK, with a pond, a village sign and a bench to enjoy the view For the community in New York, see Village Green, New York. ... Wong may be any of the following: // Wong (surname) is the Cantonese romanization of two common Chinese surnames; Huang 黃 (lit. ...


Image File history File links Question_book-3. ...

Historical Movements in Defence of the Commons

For other meanings see Diggers (disambiguation) and Levellers (disambiguation) The Diggers were a group begun by Gerrard Winstanley in 1649 which called for a total destruction of the existing social order and replacement with a communistic and agrarian lifestyle based around the precepts of Christian Nationalism, wishing to rid England... The Levellers were a mid 17th century English political movement, who came to prominence during the English Civil Wars. ...

Contemporary Movements in Defence of the Commons

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) is an armed revolutionary group based in Chiapas, one of the poorest states of Mexico. ... It has been suggested that MST (disambiguation) be merged into this article or section. ... There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ...

Further reading

  • Frischmann , Brett M., "An Economic Theory of Infrastructure and Commons Management" . Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 89, pp. 917-1030, 2005
  • J.M. Neeson, Commoners: Common Right, Enclosure and Social Change in England, 1700 – 1820, [1, Cambridge University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-521-56774-2]
  • Martina de Moor, Leigh Shaw-Taylor, and Paul Warde, eds. The Management of Common Land in North West Europe, c. 1500-1850. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2002.
  • Meinzen-Dick, Ruth, Esther Mwangi, and Stephan Dohrn: Securing the Commons. CAPRi Policy Brief 4. Washington DC: IFPRI. May 2006.
  • Cooperation Commons The Cooperation Project, a collaboration between the Institute for the Future and Howard Rheingold, proposes to catalyze an interdisciplinary study of cooperation, commons research and collective action.
  • Project Communis weblog on privatisation and common property
  • Section Z promotes building common assets.
  • The Commons: Open Society Sustainability Initiative Technology, sustainable development and "social justice"
  • Common land, town and village greens and the Commons Bill
  • Information Commons - Uniting society’s public information into one massively distributed database.
  • A French definition
  • The Commons Institute - promoting the use of commons (in the wider sense).
  • History of Parliament
  • Conservation CommonsThe Conservation Commons promotes conscious, effective, and equitable sharing of knowledge resources to advance conservation.


  1. ^ a b Jonathan Brown Oh bother! Nimbies do battle with council over Pooh's forest, The Independent, (section:This Britain), 21 April, 2007

  Results from FactBites:
BREHON LAWS - Online Information article about BREHON LAWS (6512 words)
Subject to this permanent and fundamental ownership, part of the land was set apart for the maintenance of the king as such.
death of any person so rewarded, the land in theory reverted to the clan; but if like services continued to be rendered by the son•or other successor, and accepted by the clan, the land was not withdrawn.
area of arable land available for the common use of the clansmen was gradually diminished by these encroachments, but was still always substantial.
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