Half our countryside was once Common Land – privately owned land over which people have rights of use, mostly to graze livestock. Today just 3% of England is Common Land, yet these areas have immense importance to those who use them, to the wider public and to our landscape and heritage. Common Land makes up large sections of our most beloved landscapes, such as within the Lake District, New Forest, Yorkshire Dales and Dartmoor Fells. The use of land by Commoners, as permanent pastures, protects archaeological remains, traditions unchanged for more than a thousand years, rare species and ecosystems, and the character of iconic areas.
The Foundation for Common Land brings together all parties with an interest in common land, to support people and landscapes on a practical level, and to influence policy and public understanding through research and publications. The Foundation has an ever more important role to play as we approach Brexit, to ensure the survival of rural communities, fragile habitats and eco-systems beyond EU funding. Commoning is a way of life and tradition that has survived unchanged for over two-thousand years, and it is clear it needs to be understood and valued if it is to survive.