Our Common Cause – new project to conserve and enhance the heritage of commons

What do the Stiperstones, the Long Mynd and Clee Liberty all have in common?

They’re all commons in the Shropshire Hills AONB, grazed by commoners as for centuries, and valued for their natural and cultural heritage.

And they are part of a new national project to conserve and enhance the heritage of commons and commoning in upland England.

Clee Liberty common

Contrary to popular belief, common land is not owned ‘in common’.  The landowner has to allow people from specific usually neighbouring properties, to exercise their historic rights, most often to graze.  This ancient system is a cultural legacy and help to maintain these valuable pieces of land, but commons and communing are under threat from changes to farm support and patterns of farming, recreational pressure and lack of understanding.

 

The Foundation for Common Land is leading on this five year project.  The Shropshire Hills AONB is one of four upland landscapes involved.  Working together with Dartmoor, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, we will address the viability of commoning and the value of commons to society.

 

The project has three broad aims – to enable collaborative management, to reconnect people with commons, and to improve public benefits.

 

Through the project, almost 30,000ha of upland common will be better managed, and with it, the delivery of a wide range of ecosystems services.  The project will share learning and best practice between commoners, many of whom live in isolated rural communities, and reconnect people with commons, helping them to enjoy and understand commons to safeguard their heritage.

 

Here in the Shropshire Hills we have set up an area group of stakeholders from various commons.  The three main commons the project will work with are the Long Mynd, Clee Liberty and the Stiperstones, and there will be opportunities to involve people from other commons if they wish.

 

Further, detailed information about the Our Common Cause project is available at http://www.foundationforcommonland.org.uk/news/546-our-common-cause-our-upland-commons

For more information please contact Cath Landles at the AONB Partnership on 01743 254742, or email shropshirehillsaonb@shropshire.gov.uk.