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  What are Commons?

The concept of commons or common land goes back centuries, when through local custom or politics, individuals were given the right by the Lord of the Manor to collect firewood, fish, graze animals and other rights, subject to the local need. Such land was often referred to as manorial waste, this land being of little economic value to the owner.

In 1965 an Act of Parliament made it compulsory for all common land to be registered; this catalogued all of the commons and registered the rights of commoners and land owners.

All common land has an owner. The majority is owned by private organisations. For example, the National Trust on Gower own over 1760 hectares of common land. Other landowners include the local authority and private estates. Where there is no known landowner, the local authority can legally protect the common from deterioration or mis-use.

Why is common land so important?

Common land is an important part of Welsh heritage, from the vast areas of upland common to the lowland common of Gower. These landscapes are a legacy to the people of Wales from the commoners, who for centuries exercised their legal rights to graze livestock.

In the new millennium, commons continue to be of value for agriculture, landscape, archaeology, wildlife and recreation.



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