Symposium 2, 7-8 September 2009, Newcastle University

‘Environmental Governance of the Commons, Past and Present’
Our second symposium, on the theme of ‘Environmental Governance of the Commons, Past and Present’, was held at Newcastle University on 7-8 September. Academic researchers, stakeholders and policy makers met to discuss themes emerging from the Contested Common Land Project.

Day One of the symposium was opened by Professor Stephen Daniels (Director of the AHRC Landscape and Environment Programme), who introduced the L&E Programme’s work and objectives; Professor David Manning (Director of IRES), who welcomed participants to the Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability, and Professor Chris Rodgers (Newcastle Law School), who introduced the Contested Common Land Project. Members of the Contested Common Land Project then presented interim findings from two case study areas: the upland pastures of the Elan & Claerwen Valleys, Powys, and the saltmarshes of Brancaster on the north Norfolk coast. In Session 2, participants explored and gave feedback on a version of LandNote, our web-based display of research findings, with a demonstration of 3-D imaging techniques provided by Dan Jackson and members of Newcastle Culture Lab.

The morning of Day Two focused on historical perspectives, beginning with a paper from Dr Althea Davies (AHRC Research Centre for Environmental History, Stirling), which provided a much greater time-depth for environmental change than is usually employed in modern policy development: ‘In retrospect: using long-term ecology to set current management issues in context in NW Sutherland and the Peak District’; this was followed by a paper from Dr Angus Winchester (History Department, Lancaster & CCL Project) which stepped outside of our usual concentration on pasture rights to look at other common right resources: ‘Beyond pasture rights: the management of turbary, estovers and other lesser rights on common land in England and Wales since 1600’; and Dr Eleanor Straughton (History Department, Lancaster & CCL Project) concluded the historical session with a presentation of more recent evidence of local management strategies: ‘Common land governance: the evidence of commoners’ and stint-holders’ association minute books, c.1800-1985′.

The afternoon session of Day Two turned to look at contemporary governance issues. A presentation by Dr Chris Short (Countryside and Community Research Institute, Gloucestershire) put statutory governance into context, reviewing the policy developments of the last ten years: ‘Jewel in the crown or stone in the shoe: a review of the relationship between common land and agri-environment schemes in England and Wales’; and Dr Victoria Edwards (School of Environmental Design and Management, Portsmouth) presented research on the New Forest, explaining the roles of different user-groups, problem-solving techniques and multiple levels of governance: ‘ Whose New Forest? – a political ecology of contested commons’. Nadine Kramm (Environmental Research Institute, Cork) was unfortunately unable to attend, but kindly supplied a paper on her research into common land in Ireland: ‘Transformations in high nature value (HNV) farming and their socio-ecological implications – the case of upland commonages in the SW of Ireland’. The session finished with a discussion on the theme of legal pluralism, introduced by Margherita Pieraccini and Chris Rodgers (Newcastle Law School & CCL Project).

Members of the Contested Common Land Project would like to extend their sincere thanks to all who participated in the event. The Project benefitted greatly from the exchange of ideas and from participants’ insightful comments and suggestions for further evidence, giving us much food for thought as we move into the final stages of the project.

Symposium papers
Working papers delivered at Symposium 2 will be posted here (in pdf form) as they become available. Papers are posted with the kind permission of authors. Please do not cite or reproduce sections of these papers without first contacting the authors.

Symposium 1, 11-12 September 2008, Lancaster University

‘Sustainability and the Commons, Past and Present’
On 11-12 September we held the first of our project symposia, on the theme of ‘Sustainability and the Commons, Past and Present.’ Eighteen participants, including academics, stakeholders and policy makers from across the UK and Japan, met to share research findings and experiences, and to help develop ideas arising from the Contested Common Land project.

The symposium opened with an introduction to the AHRC’s Landscape and Environment Programme by the Programme Director, Professor Stephen Daniels (Nottingham University). Session One saw members of the Contested Common Land team present interim findings on two of their case study areas – Eskdale in Cumbria, and Ingleton in North Yorkshire – followed by a discussion of the issues and ideas raised. Session Two took the form of a round table discussion on the broad themes of ‘The Law and Common Land’, and ‘Local Governance in a Global Society’, led by Graham Bathe (Natural England) and Julia Aglionby (H. & H. Bowe and Federation of Cumbria Commoners), respectively. The floor was open to colleagues to contribute their own experiences and perspectives on the themes of the symposium.

Day Two explored the sustainability of the commons from historical and contemporary perspectives. In the historical session, Dr Angus Winchester and Dr Eleanor Straughton (History Department, Lancaster University) presented preliminary findings from their research into stints and sustainability, from 1600 to 2006; Dr Alasdair Ross (Centre for Research in Environmental History, Stirling University) explored the historical background to Scottish ‘souming’; and Professor Michael Turner (History Department, Hull University) reflected on his research into the relationship between enclosure and sustainability crises on the commons of Midland open field villages. The afternoon session turned towards contemporary issues on common land, with Dr. Jane Holder (Faculty of Laws, UCL) explaining the EU spatial strategy and its relevance for commons; Dr Nicola Thompson (Centre for Rural Economy, Newcastle University) delivering a paper on the EU Common Agricultural Policy and the prospects for a sustainable farming system; and Professor Chris Rodgers (Law School, Newcastle University) speaking on property rights and the sustainability of common land, using case study material from the Contested Common Land project.

The Contested Common Land team would like to thank all those who attended the symposium: their insights and experiences made for a highly enjoyable and stimulating event, and we look forward to the next symposium in Newcastle in September 2009.

Symposium abstracts and papers
Abstracts of all papers delivered at Symposium 1 are available here as a pdf document. Certain papers have also been made available in full or draft form, with the kind permission of authors. Please do not cite or reproduce sections of these papers without first contacting the authors.

Leave a Comment