Land Commons in Europe

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Jose Luis Vivero Pol

Sent: 25 October 2016 11:32

"It is interesting to note that the current European Union, despite centuries of encroachments, privatisations and private propietary regimes, is still full of commons, natural, man-made and non-material. Just to give some examples of natural food-producing commons, one fourth of Galician territory is owned by collective propietary regimes, enshrined in the Constitution and with a particular legal system. Moreover...

In the Scandinavian countries anyone can forage wild mushrooms and berries under the consuetudinary Everyman’s Rights (La Mela, 2014) and the Spanish irrigated huertas (vegetable gardens) are a well-known and robust institution (Ostrom, 1990), while there are thousands of surviving community-owned forests and pasturelands across Europe where livestock freely range, including the Baldios in Portugal (Rodrigues, 1987), Crofts in Scotland, Obste in Rumania (Vassile & Mantescu, 2009) and Montes Vecinales en Mano Comun in Spain (Grupo Montes Vecinales IDEGA, 2013). In fact, and despite centuries of encroachments, misappropriations and legal privatisations, millions of hectares of common land have survived in Europe.


  • Mostly used for grazing, common lands still cover 9 percent of the surface of France (Vivier, 2002), for example, more than 10 percent in Switzerland, 4.2 percent in Spain (Lana-Berasain & Iriarte-Goni, in press) and 4 percent in England and Wales.