8.4% of Wales is Common Land. Historically, certain rights were given to communities to use land which did not belong to them. Commons are important for nature and often large swathes of our most beautiful landscapes. This week is World Commons Week and we want to highlight the importance of our commons.
What are commons?
The original meaning of the term ‘commons’ comes from the way communities managed land that was held ‘in common’ in medieval Europe. Along with this shared land a clear set of rules was developed by the community about how it was to be used.
Common Land is largely privately owned, it can be bought and sold but other people have rights of of Common over that land, these are usually grazing rights.
Why are commons important?
Across Wales, they include important habitats such as Fridd, rhos pasture, woodland, heathland (wet, dry, dune), bog and limestone cliff. They support rare species such as marsh fritillary, golden plover, curlew, Southern damselfly, powdercap strangler and fen orchid.
As well as providing a place to farm for people, commons provide a space for recreation and provide ecosystem services such as health and wellbeing, flood management and carbon sequestration.
We have farmers and their grazing animals to thank for their maintenance. Without grazing, there would be less biodiversity and a higher fuel load. This would lead to more wildfires and restricted access due to scrub encroachment. These are challenging areas in which to farm but they produce high quality, ethical and sustainable produce. Thanks to all of our Welsh Commoners.