The term refers to a form of ownership, usually of land, where a group of people, usually belonging to the same community or local area, own a large parcel of land that is used for grazing of cows and sheep. Each person owns a fraction, or share, of the entire tract of land in common with all others, but the fraction does not entitle the owner to exclusive use of any part of the commonage. Rather, anyone’s sheep and cows can graze anywhere within the commonage. While typically no one owns individually any specific portion of the land, there are instances where each of the group may own individually a turf plot within the commonage that only that person can dig.
In Ireland there are 426,000 hectares (1,052,668 acres) of commonage with over 11,000 farms that have a shareholding in one or more of the approximately 4,500 remaining commonages.
In the 1970s in Ireland there were significant increases in the number of sheep people grazed on the commonage, in large response to subsidies from the European Union. These increases have generated significant stresses on the commonage’s biodiversity. As a result, the government has developed schemes for management of the commonage to preserve its natural resources.
Some further ideas to explore on Commonage:
Identify any commonage in your area, how long it has existed as commonage, and how many people have rights to use the commonage.
Determine whether the commonage is being fully utilized, or is underutilized.
If fully utilized, is the biodiversity of the commonage at risk of deterioration?
If underutilized, are there sustainable uses of the commonage that might be considered, e.g., windfarms or solar farms?
“What is Commonage?” Your Commonage bit.ly/2NcpEAa
“Commonage” The Free Dictionary bit.ly/2WkIr0j