Millions of people have a stake in common land. There are 7,000 commons in England covering nearly 400,000 ha, ranging from the highest mountains to the heart of towns and cities. Whilst the largest area of common land is associated with the uplands of northern and western England, most commons by number (22% of the total) are found in south-eastern England. No-one is ever far from a common. In addition to commoners who may depend on their commons for part of their livelihood, and other agricultural and sporting interests, there are companies who manage common land for water supply, and huge numbers of the public who appreciate commons for their exceptional landscape, wildlife, and archaeological interests, and the right of access enjoyed over them.
Because commons are important to so many people, they can provide fertile ground for disagreement. Proposals by one group of interests can appear to sideline or even antagonise others. A Common Purpose was developed to help de-fuse this tension, and provide a more collaborative and consensual approach, recognising the value of commons to everyone. It provides guidance on how to engage with local communities for those contemplating management on common land. This revised version takes account of changes in legislation and builds on lessons learned since first introduced.