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Common Land for sustainable management (COMMONS)
Start date: Sep 30, 2008, End date: Sep 29, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

COMMONS project faces the challenge of territorial management in marginal lands in the framework of a continuous concentration of former rural population towards urban or peri-urban areas. Important natural areas risk environment depletion because of changing in the utilization patterns and abandoning of traditional practices. Some of these areas correspond to ancient common lands once managed for the livelihood of a whole village, but now subject to overgrowing. Generally common land is a natural area owned by one person, public or private, but over which another is entitled to excercise right of use in common with others, such as a local community. Common lands find their roots in ancient history, since Middle Age in Italy or the ancient Romanian state, Dacia, in 88 BC, in Romania.Across centuries common lands were preserved by the managing system in use, and nowadays these areas cover habitats often of very high nature conservation value, because of their very long continuity of management. Commons were once widespread across Europe, there are still existing but faces threats due to the complexity in defining the legal entity and rights of the commoners, and scarcely still represent an intersting source of income for communities. Nevertheless the rights to use common lands are exclusive and only people from the community can exploit the natural resources, but must as well take care of the area. This double sided aspect of common lands, being rich in nature and subject to special legal treatment, represent an opportunity which risks to be forget.COMMONS intends to reasses the value of the uncoltivated common lands - called forest based common lands to distinguish from rural common lands – as a valid instrument for preserving natural resources and valorise natural products in order to both preserve the natural heritage and reduce the phenomenon of depopulation. In order to do so the partnership is composed mainly of PPs sharing the same situation, so that they can help each other in improving local policies, but as well of partners willing to witness an alternative although grounded in traditions. Achievements: The Commons project aims to lead a comparative and prospective analysis of the situation of various territories partners with an aim of directing the regional policies as regards management of Community spaces. Thus, the subject is centered on the existence of collective spaces called “Commons Lands” which in the majority of the cases are important zones in the field of the biodiversity. Their existence is often blamed by the social and economic evolutions (agriculture, tourism, urbanization,…). On the practical level, it is a question of building grids of data starting from descriptive and analytical criteria making it possible to have a common approach of the evolution of the vocations of these zones. These analytical grids must make it possible to determine the bases of thorough case studies on the basis of good practices. They are also used for the organization of workshop on the future of these territories by bringing together the various operators intervening on the zones. Conferences are designed to distribute the elements of problems and the results of the project. Following the kick-off meeting in Corsica (F) who allowed to set up a monitoring scientific authority in January 2009, several meetings of the partners made it possible to define and validate 3 grids, as follows: * at Portalegro (Pt) in June 2009, the grid n°1 was presented and its structure was validated. This indentification grid defines many descriptive elements essential to the knowledge of the territories. It contains geographical, legal data concerning the users and their rights. It also makes it possible to join together the elements of localization and context, including good practices. * in Palermo (IT) in November 2009, the partners presented the 9 “commons lands” according to the criteria defined by the grid n°1. A first comparative analysis could be made. The grid n°2 was produced and put into debate. Its objective is to present the structures of management, their role and the existing relations between the institutional operators and the users. Each one of these meetings was an opportunity to know the territories concretely and to exchange on their practices of management with an aim of locating the good practices from the point of view of the issue. Other meetings are programmed to continue this work of making analytical tools, such as in January 2010 in Palma de Majorque (E) and in Nitra (SSL) in April 2010. It is only after that the case studies and the workshops will be committed. A first seminar is programmed in May 2010 in Rome (IT) to present the issues through the participating territories.
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