‘In these austere times, we should invest in our unique resource of common land.’
So said our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, at an international symposium on the role of commons at Sheffield Hallam University on 16 September.
‘Commons are a remarkable survival from pre-medieval times, unenclosed and undisturbed through history. They also have immense public interest—over 88 per cent by area of the commons in England are designated for their wildlife, landscape or archaeology, and nearly 100 per cent are available for public access by right. No other land type provides such a wealth of public good.’
‘So we need to ensure our commons are cared for and loved, as places for recreation, refreshment and escape from current pressures. We must invest in our commons,’ Kate declared.
Last summer the Open Spaces Society published Finding Common Ground (Click to read) which is guidance to common-land managers on how to recognise and take account of local-community interests in common land. The work was commissioned by Natural England, the government’s adviser on the natural environment.
Kate continued: ‘Whereas there are national and international targets for wildlife, habitats and landscapes, there is no measure for community interest and it tends to get forgotten when managers of commons are developing their plans and ticking the biodiversity boxes.
‘Commons are people’s places and people must be central to every plan for a common’s future.’