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Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 9 months ago

Common Land & Village Greens


This page will provide links to some of the research being carried out by local groups into the histories of their local commons, both in recent times, and from the origins of common land in the manorial system.


The Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area for Wild Birds, designated as a result of European Directives, is much in the news today because of the apparent moratorium the SPA is having on new housing development. The SPA seeks to protect rare species of birds and their habitat. That habitat is Lowland Heath. Much of that heathland is registered common land, some of it still having common rights over it for grazing, collecting firewood, and other rights which cottagers have freely enjoyed over many centuries.


That heathland was always the poorest agricultural land in the area, which nobody had bothered to annex for agricultural production. It was therefore known as 'waste of the manor' and ordinary householders were allowed to graze their animals on it.


If those ordinary people had not assiduously hung on to those rights over many centuries - right up to the present day - then today there would probably be no SPA. Much common land has been lost: Heathrow Airport and Farnborough Airfield are built on former common land. Much has disappeared under housing estates or been enclosed for agricultrual use, using modern fertilizers to improve it. However vast tracts of common survive: the existence of the SPA testifies to that.


Whether you are interested in the rare heathland species, or want to concrete over the whole lot to provide new factories and housing estates, it will be instructive to learn how commons and greens originated, how they have been conserved as a common resource for generations, what protection now preserves them, and how they are now managed for biodiversity.


Click here to find out more about local commons:

Yateley Common

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