Supporting the centuries-old heritage of upland commons in four of England’s most significant cultural landscapes. We are one of four upland landscapes involved in developing projects to re-connecting people with commons and improving public benefits.
Working together with Dartmoor, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, we are addressing the viability of commoning and the value of commons to society.
Our Common Cause is being managed by the Foundation for Common Land on behalf of a broad partnership of organisations.
What are Commons, how do they work and why do they matter?
Common land has its origins in our ancient history and is managed collectively – by “commoners” who are often, but not always farmers. They have the right to graze sheep, cattle, horses or pigs. Each common has its own group of commoners, with the grazing rights usually linked to their home farm and often passing down through generations of the same family.
Common land is not owned by the commoners but by someone else – a local council, another farmer, the Lord of the Manor or a utilities company. For example, the National Trust owns 60,000 ha of common land in England and Wales.
Wimbledon Common is one you may have heard of, and commons account for 3% of all land in England with some of our most iconic mountains being commons e.g. Helvellyn and Blencathra. Here in the Shropshire Hills AONB, some of our most iconic landscape features are also commons, including the Long Mynd and Stiperstones.
As well as being a vital resource for farmers, commons are important for wildlife, are often valuable historic sites, and are somewhere that people can get outside and enjoy the fresh air, as everyone has a right to walk on commons.
But, as with many traditional farming practices, commoning (farmers using their grazing rights) is in decline; and as a result, commons’ natural and cultural heritage is being lost.
This project is looking at ways to make commons more relevant to 21st century life; we’ll help people to discover and enjoy them, we’ll support owners and commoners in managing them to safeguard their history and the wildlife that depends on them, and we’ll look at ways to help make commoning more viable for future generations.
We have funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a £2.7m scheme covering 12 commons across the Shropshire Hills, Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and Dartmoor. The three participating commons here in the Shropshire Hills are the Long Mynd, Stiperstones and Clee Liberty.
Hopefully we’ll get the go ahead on the final proposals in autumn 2019 and the project will be delivered between 2020 –2023. We hope these 12 sites will be just the start of a commons revival across England.
For more information please contact Catherine Landles on 01743 254742 or email Cath through our Contact Us page
Our Common Cause is supported by a Partnership of 23 organisations, who are listed at www.foundationforcommonland.org.uk. The Project is convened by the Foundation for Common Land, with the National Trust as the Accountable Body. The Project has funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, alongside funding from our partners, for a Development Stage between January 2018 and October 2019.