3 year project aims to protect future of The Lake District's upland commons

3 year project aims to protect future of The Lake District's upland commons

Bampton Common above Haweswater

25th November 2021

A three-year £3m project to secure the future of upland commons has received a funding boost.

The system of common land was enshrined in law in the Magna Carta in 1215 but is at risk of quietly vanishing.

Only just over three per cent of England remains as common land, which is owned privately but over which individuals, commoners, have rights, mostly to graze livestock.

All common land also has open access which means people have the right to enjoy it for recreation and learning.

The three-year Our Upland Commons project covers three areas in the Lake District: the Derwent Fells, which the path up Cat Bells crosses, Bampton in the East of the national park, and Kinniside on the western edge of the Lakes.

Across England, the scheme covers nine more commons. In Dartmoor, Harford and Ugborough, Holne; in Shropshire, Long Mynd, Stiperstones, Clee Liberty; and in the Yorkshire Dales, Brant Fell, Grassington Moor and Ingleborough. The commons cover 18,000ha (44,480 acres).

The Foundation for Common Land is leading the project. Its executive director Julia Aglionby, who lives in the Eden Valley, said: “Commoning has given rise to the centuries-old practice of shared land management. It’s a system that gives us many good things, including food, water, access to nature, green space and heritage.

“And it can help with many 21st century challenges from nature recovery to flood management, carbon storage and our wellbeing.

“But there are serious threats to commons and the system of commoning. If not addressed we’ll lose these rare landscapes and the benefits they bring now and, in the future.

“The Our Uplands Commons project is all about helping commoners adapt and survive as well as growing the public’s enjoyment of, and respect for, commons and commoning.”

Common land traditionally sustained the poorest people in rural communities, providing them with a source of wood, bracken for bedding and pasture for livestock.

At one time nearly half of the land in Britain was common land, but from the 16th century onwards the gentry excluded commoners from land which could be ‘improved’ through agriculture. Most common land is now found in areas with low agricultural potential, but with high conservation significance and natural beauty.

More detail can be found at:
Foundation for Common Land

All news