Celebrating upland commons

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Thanks to National Lottery players some of our best loved places in the uplands of England will be better looked after.  A partnership of 24 organisations, including the society, will empower those who graze common land, the commoners, to manage them better to restore peat, create habitats for birds and butterflies, and improve the quality of access for public health, well-being and enjoyment.

Long Mynd, Shropshire Hills

Long Mynd, Shropshire Hills

Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons has been awarded a £1.9 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund towards its £3 million delivery phase which will run for three and a half years until 2024.  Our Common Cause is a partnership project run by the Foundation for Common Land with the National Trust as the accountable body.  It will work in Dartmoor, Shropshire Hills, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.

Commons are brimming with nature, history and culture.  As importantly, all common land has open access for everyone to enjoy for recreation.  Commons are seven times more likely to be designated for nature and one is four times more likely to find an ancient monument there.  The reason is that the ancient system of collective pastoral grazing has protected these sites from the plough but recent policies and pressures have threatened this heritage and now only three per cent of England is common land.

‘Through Our Common Cause we shall enhance both nature and culture as well as the health and well-being benefits from commons,’ said Julia Aglionby, Executive Director of the Foundation for Common Land.  ‘We shall enhance collaboration between those who manage commons, enabling more people to visit, enjoy and understand commons.  Under the banner of #Commons4Tomorrow we shall actively improve the archaeology, biodiversity and carbon-storage capacity of commons as well as the cultural heritage of this unique system of land management—commoning.’

Limestone pavement on Little Asby Common in the Yorkshire Dales. Photo: Friends of the Lake District

Says our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘The Open Spaces Society is pleased to be a part of the partnership delivering this excellent project.  For far too long have commons been misunderstood and under-rated.  This work will help to raise the profile of commons and encourage all to appreciate and celebrate the many public benefits they provide.’

About the Project

A partnership of 24 organisations has been working together over the last three years to develop this project and has contributed financially and in kind to make this project a reality. Major grants have also been awarded from Esmée Fairbairn and Garfield Weston Foundations as well as many smaller grant giving trusts. The partnership members are:

Foundation for Common Land and National Trust plus; Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Dartmoor Commoners’ Council, Dartmoor National Park Authority, Devon Wildlife Trust, Duchy of Cornwall, Federation of Cumbria Commoners, Friends of the Lake District, Heather Trust, Lake District National Park Authority, Moorland Association, National Farmers’ Union, National Sheep Association, Natural England, Open Spaces Society, RSPB, Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, South West Water, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, University of Cumbria

Work will begin in early 2021 to support projects as diverse as butterfly conservation, managing bracken, restoring peat bogs and planting trees. Farmers will be supported future proof their commoning systems, enhance environmental land management and bring school children from disadvantaged communities to their commons to learn about food, farming and the environment.


Click here to find out more about the Our Common Cause: Uplands Commons Programme on the Foundation for Common Land website.

Click here for more general information about commons.

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