Better Outcomes on Upland Commons
Better Outcomes on Upland Commons was a national project led by the Foundation for Common Land during 2014, aiming to improve working relations between organisations to strengthen our ability to safeguard and manage the uplands. The project worked with five upland commons across England to draw out the characteristics of the successful delivery of multiple outcomes over the same area of land. The purpose was to inform the development of upland policies and programmes for these cultural landscapes which are cherished and visited by millions. Common Land was used as the focus of the project as it encompasses many of the conflicts and challenges of the wider upland countryside.
The Long Mynd was one of the five case study areas. During 2014, Cath Landles from the Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership carried out interviews with a range of people from different organisations and backgrounds involved with the Long Mynd to find out how the common is used and valued, issues affecting it, what works well and why and what people would like to see happening in the future.
The overall report concluded “The five case studies reflected the diversity of upland commons in England, yet interestingly this project identified many shared attributes that characterise the successful delivery of multiple outcomes on upland commons. These are:
- · Strong and adaptive leadership and co-ordination
- · Good and regular communication
- · Effective and well established networks
- · Respectful attitudes
- · Clarity on rights and outcomes
- · Trade-offs negotiated fairly
- · Fair and transparent administration
- · Payments that reflect respective contributions and benefits
- · Value local knowledge and provide local discretion over prescriptions
- · Time: continuity of service, time for negotiations and duration of interventions”
The Long Mynd case study concluded:
“All the interviewees agreed that everyone has the right to use the common but that everyone should seek not to damage the very things that are valued: Landscape quality, wildlife, tranquillity, wildness. The key word here is balance. There needs to be mutual understanding between users of the common. This works well where people know each other and are regularly meeting. The Long Mynd Liaison Group is successfully achieving this goal for many users, although more involvement by the Commoners would be appreciated.”
The possibilities for a follow-on project involving upland commons in the Shropshire Hills and elsewhere are now being explored.