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Agricultural management of common land - LE0218

Objective: This research will inform the development of policy and regulations concerning the agricultural management of common land, primarily drawing on evidence from a sample of commons across England and Wales. It will provide a more detailed picture of the current situation regarding the existence of organisations managing agricultural activities on common land.

Policy Relevance: This research will directly inform Defra`s development of new legislation to improve the favourable agricultural management of common land, both by providing more information on current agricultural management and on best practice in the institutional arrangements that enable favourable management.

Outputs of research: This research will produce a report summarising the avaliable evidence on the current agricultural management of common land and concluding on the range of factors that support effective, as well as those that lead to ineffective, agricultural management on different types of common land. A supporting volume will describe the experience of eight case study commons or associations in more detail.
Objective 1. A description of how common land is currently being utilised for agricultural purposes.
This objective will establish the context and evidence basis on agricultural management for the remainder of the study. It will need to distinguish between agricultural management that is driven by private commercial objectives (likely to be mainly the production of breeding, store and finished livestock) and that driven by wider public good objectives (for instance public recreation and environmental conservation).

This objective has three parts as follows:

1.1 The nature of agricultural use and of the individuals involved, and the contribution the common makes to agricultural management systems on adjoining land.

1.2 The way in which common land rights are held, used (as active, inactive dormant or inactive disused rights) and transferred (by leasing or lending) and the relationship these factors have to agricultural management of common land and to the achievement of wider public objectives.

1.3 The impact that agricultural management of common land has on the achievement of wider public objectives such as the provision of public open access, uptake of agri-environment schemes and favourable management of statutorily designated sites.

Objective 2. Characterisation of the institutional arrangements currently operating to control the agricultural management of common land. This objective will be based on evidence gathered from 15 case studies that are thought to be representative of the situation where institutional arrangements exist across common land in England and Wales as a whole. These case studies will include formally established bodies in the following categories:
Federations of Commons Associations
Commoners` Associations established under the commons Act 1908
Boards of conservators
Local authority owned and managed coimmons
Ancient management systems

Case studies will also be drawn from situations where the arrangements to undertake agricultural management are more informal such as where
Management has been informally adopted by the local authority or a voluntary body.
Commoners have formed a voluntary association (without a statutory basis but where a formal structure has been established such as a written constitution, chairman and clerk).
There is regular and effective liaison between commoners but without any organised structure.

Within the constraint of the information available, the case studies will represent the distribution of agriculturally managed commons across Wales and England and between upland and lowland areas.

The issues to be addressed in this objective, through the case studies can be split into two parts, as follows

2.1 The constitution and governance structure of bodies overseeing agricultural management. To include their history, membership (representation), management, the powers and activities they have adopted and their funding.

2.2 How diferent institutional arrangements help resolve, or exacerbate, conflicts over agricultural management, particularly in relation to meeting the range of public objectives such as the examples identified in objective 3.1

Objective 3. Provision of case studies that illustrate the range of formal and informal associations established to manage agricultural activities on common land. This objective will see evidence of eight of the 15 case studies analysed in the second objective written up in full to provide an overall impression of the characteristics and effective of different institutional arrangements. The eight case studies will be chosen from the categories identified in the second objectives, again representing Wales and England and Upland lowland commons, within the constraints of the information available.

Objective 4. Identification of a range of factors that appear to support effective agricultural management in different categories of common land factors which lead to poor or ineffective management.
This objectives will draw best practice lessons from the evidence gathered in meeting the previous objectives, and particularly from the 15 case studies analysed in objectives 2 and 3. As stated above, the role of different institutional arrangements in achieving both private commercial gain and favourable management that meets the range of public objectives will be addressed.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Final Report CSG15   (75k)
• Executive Summary : Executive Summary   (95k)
• Final Report - Annex : Appendices to Full Report   (1926k)
• Final Report - Annex : Full version of Report   (762k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2004

Cost: £24,874
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Land Use Consultants - Bristol
Agricultural Land              
Environmental Protection              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Soil Protection