An Introduction to ‘Finding Common Ground’

Click here to read the full report from 2010 with minor revisions made in 2013

Commons are unique. People value them for all sorts of reasons.
There is no other type of land in which so much public interest is
concentrated. This is why commons must be treated with respect
and understanding.
A staggering number and many thousands of hectares of commons
are designated as national or international sites, for their wildlife,
landscape or archaeological interest—and nearly all are available
for public access by right. The designations bring with them targets
and guidance on how to achieve them. There are no such formal
checklists for local people and local interests, yet their interest in
commons is just as important.


Consequently, under pressure to get things done and to meet funding deadlines, there is a danger that the community’s interests will
be overlooked. This guidance explains how the values which local
people place on commons can be identified and integrated with national and international criteria.
Plans for grazing, for scrub-clearance and tree-felling, for instance,
can all meet opposition unless the community is involved in their
making. Fencing, which may be desirable to enable the common to
be grazed, is a physical and a psychological barrier. It can change
the nature of the common, is often highly controversial and should
be a last resort. It is best that it is tested, with pilot plots to see if it
will have the desired effect; it can be mitigated by sensitive siting or
removal of barbed wire. Plentiful access-points are essential.
This guidance shows, through case studies, how to identify the people who care about a particular common, and how to involve them in
plans for its future. We make it clear that you should not undertake
works on a common lightly. You must take time to understand why
the community values its common and how to accommodate everyone’s wishes.
If you persevere and win agreement, the common will be sustained—a joy for ever.

Click here to read the full report from 2010 with minor revisions made in 2013