Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons Enabling vulnerable communities to enhance iconic places

At the heart of England’s most loved and visited places are Commons; managed by commoners’ and the owners of common land. This management delivers a huge range of public benefits including biodiversity, archeology, landscape, recreation, water and carbon. Unfortunately Commons' natural and cultural heritage has declined and conflicts have arisen. Furthermore Brexit threatens the viability of commoning and the value of commons to society.

In September 2017 we were notified we had been awarded funding for a two year development phase and we plan to submit to HLF for a three year delivery phase in December 2019.

Our project builds on the work of ‘Better Outcomes on Upland Commons’ to enhance the centuries-old heritage of upland commons in four of England’s most significant cultural landscapes. These are Dartmoor, Shropshire Hills, Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. This project will address the threats over five years under three Aims;
• ‘Enabling Collaborative Management’,
• ‘Reconnecting People with Commons’ and
• ‘Improving Public Benefits’:

We will collectively build skills to manage conflict and improve outcomes, trial practical conservation including bracken management, and through learning, the John Muir Award and volunteering, increase and celebrate ancient cultural practices and environmental assets.

Our legacy will be more people enjoying and understanding commons and communities empowered to safeguard the heritage of commons.

A national approach is being adopted to create bridges of learning between dispersed sites with similar characteristics. Outcomes will be significantly greater and enduring than through individual projects.

The project partnership is convened by the Foundation for Common Land with the National Trust acting as the accountable body. The national partners include:
Dartmoor, Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District National Parks, Shropshire Hills AONB, Cumbria, Devon, Shropshire and Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts. NFU, Natural England, RSPB, South West Water, Duchy of Cornwall, Moorland Association, National Sheep Association, Open Spaces Society.

In January 2018 a programme manager was appointed and in March Area Facilitators were contracted for each of the four areas.
More information about the project is available from Joy Howells joy@foundationforcommonland.org.uk