Contested Common Land : Environmental Governance Past and Present book cover
1st Edition

Contested Common Land
Environmental Governance Past and Present

ISBN 9781138971752
Published January 19, 2016 by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

This innovative and interdisciplinary book makes a major contribution to common pool resource studies. It offers a new perspective on the sustainable governance of common resources, grounded in contemporary and archival research on the common lands of England and Wales - an important common resource with multiple, and often conflicting, uses. It encompasses ecologically sensitive environments and landscapes, is an important agricultural resource and provides public access to the countryside for recreation. Contested Common Land brings together historical and contemporary legal scholarship to examine the environmental governance of common land from c.1600 to the present day. It uses four case studies to illustrate the challenges presented by the sustainable management of common property from an interdisciplinary perspective - from the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, North Norfolk coast and the Cambrian Mountains. These demonstrate that cultural assumptions concerning the value of common land have changed across the centuries, with profound consequences for the law, land management, the legal expression of concepts of common 'property' rights and their exercise. The 'stakeholders' of today are the inheritors of this complex cultural legacy, and must negotiate diverse and sometimes conflicting objectives in their pursuit of a potentially unifying goal: a secure and sustainable future for the commons. The book also has considerable contemporary relevance, providing a timely contribution to discussion of strategies for the implementation of the Commons Act of 2006. The case studies position the new legislation in England and Wales within the wider context of institutional scholarship on the governance principles for successful common pool resource management, and the rejection of the 'tragedy of the commons'.

Table of Contents

Preface Abbreviations 1. Introduction: Common Land as a Contested Resource Part I: Custom, Property Rights and Sustainable Management 2. Custom and the Culture of the Commons 3. 'That our Common moore be not wronged': sustainable land management in an historical context 4. Property Rights in the Modern Commons 5. Contemporary Governance of the Commons: the quest for sustainability Part II: Commons in Focus: Four case studies 6. Eskdale, Cumbria 7. Ingleborough and Scales Moor, North Yorkshire 8. Elan Valley, Powys 9. Brancaster and Thornham, Norfolk 10. Sustainable Commons: Reflections on History, Law and Governance Glossary References Cases and Legislation Index

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Chris Rodgers is Professor of Law at Newcastle University, UK. Eleanor Straughton is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of History, Lancaster University, UK. Angus Winchester is Senior Lecturer in History at Lancaster University. Margherita Pieraccini is lecturer in law at the University of Exeter, UK.


'Chris Rodgers and his co-authors have brought together important research...They show that 'modernizing' common law institutions that evolved over time can change ownership rights and duties in unexpected ways. For sustainability questions we have to study more systems over time as this important collection of studies illustrates.' - Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University, USA, and joint Winner of the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences 2009 

'Contested Common Land exemplifies collaborative, multi-disciplinary landscape research at its finest: field and archival, contemporary and historical, comparative and local, scholarly and publically engaged. Both rigorous and imaginative, the book shines a new light on English and Welsh commons and the landscape more widely. The project team reveal their rich and remarkably resilient history as a working country in the face of periodical challenges, with the capacity for a new lease of life in a wider, international, world concerned with sustainability. With complementary expertise, the authors show that common land is a topical as well as traditional place, a diverse and dynamic social and environmental resource, a repository of complex uses and values, a living landscape that demands careful cultural appreciation as well as effective conservation and practical management.' - Stephen Daniels, Director, AHRC Landscape and Environment programme, UK  

'Ambitiously conceived, and flawlessly presented, this book should be read by all policy-formers and those engaged in the management of commons, as well as anyone with an interest in rural history, the interface of common and statutory law, or awareness of the global principles underlying shared resource management. It deserves to remain on their shelves permanently, as a source of reference and inspiration.' - Graham Bathe, Principal Project Manager, Natural England

'The work is a timely contribution of interest to a wide readership concerned with issues of environmental sustainability, the evolution of institutional governance systems, the history of English and Welsh commons and our historic landscape more generally.' Agricultural History Review