Inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales the purpose of ‘Better Outcomes for Upland Commons’ is to improve long term working relations between organisations to strengthen our ability to safeguard and manage the uplands.

Through working with over fifteen national organisations and local stakeholders across five upland commons in England three objectives were addressed;

  • How better outcomes for each stakeholder can be delivered simultaneously on the same area of upland common,
  • How grazing commoners and common owners can be paid for the delivery of ecosystem services on common land by the market as well as the state, and
  • How the respective rights and responsibilities of all parties active on common land can be understood and recognized and then incorporated into management practice

In each case study we sought to discover what success looks like, the attributes of successful management and what local stakeholders considered is needed to deliver this in the future.

The project concluded that respectful and long enduring relationships between individuals and groups are at the heart of delivering better outcomes on upland commons.

Commons are known for their diversity, and these five case studies reflect that diversity, 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

With regard payments for ecosystem services (PES) the project concluded that payments from market sources are likely to remain limited in the amount they will generate for the next 5-10 years.  Stewardship schemes are considered essential to catalyse and sustain the provision of public ecosystem services therefore the continued delivery of these public benefits is at present dependent on the state paying farmers and landowners for these extensive but diffuse benefits.

These attributes of success will also result in a respect for and clarity on rights and responsibilities. In particular they lead to more effective use of local knowledge, the ability to negotiate trade-offs and the fairer administration of schemes. All these attributes characterise better outcomes for public and private interests. In short success is down to the attitudes of institutions and individuals and how they approach the challenge. As summed up by one case study co-ordinator:

Danby Moor Common has just as many issues as any other moor but it is the attitude with which they deal with those issues which makes it successful.

You can download the report here.