Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons

Commons are for All project

Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons is a national partnership project to support the heritage of upland commons and commoning in four of England’s most spectacular landscapes – it aims to increase public awareness of upland commons and work towards better collaborative management and provision of public benefits from commons.

Commons and the practice of commoning are not well understood, but commons are found in our most iconic and beloved upland landscapes including the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Dartmoor and Shropshire Hills – they also provide some of our most valuable wildlife and historic sites, are nationally important sources of clean drinking water, store vast quantities of carbon, and offer large areas for public access and recreation.

Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons is working with our partners and with commons in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Dartmoor and Shropshire Hills to:

  1. Support collaborative management between the key stakeholders on commons – including owners, commoners and organisations – and to make commons more resilient in an ever changing modern world
  2. Make sure that Commons are for All – to raise awareness and understanding of upland commons and to involve and engage a wider range of people in how they are managed and in conserving some of their special features
  3. Improve the public benefits that upland commons can provide – through a range of projects to record and restore historic features, manage habitats and take practical steps to conserve important species, restore areas of peat and wetland, improve access and infrastructure on commons

Through our Commons are for All project we invite you to focus your John Muir Award on upland commons and commoning. We have even produced an Upland Commons Resource Guide and an upland commons focused template Proposal Form (by request) to help you! During our delivery phase (planned for 2020 to 2022) we will support groups of young people from urban areas surrounding some of our upland commons to achieve the John Muir Award. At the same time upland commons are of course available to anyone using the John Muir Award who wants to explore, discover, conserve and share the many fascinating and exciting things about commons – including who owns and manages them, valuable habitats and species that exist on commons, how commoners work together to cooperatively graze the common using traditional breeds of sheep, cattle and pony, their amazing archaeological and historic interest and about the important part they play in human health, recreation and wellbeing.

To join in the conversation use the hashtag #CommonsAreForAll

A few facts to illustrate the importance of upland commons:

  • In England, some 88% of all common land is nationally or internationally important for its wildlife, landscape or archaeological interest
  • 53% of commons are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
  • 11% of Ancient Monuments are found on commons
  • Around 10% of Britain’s water supply derives from upland commons, with key supplies in the Welsh Borders, Lake District and Dartmoor
  • Common land contributes to carbon storage holding a significant proportion of the 3 billion tonnes associated with upland peat
  • 82% of common land is found in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • There are tens of millions of day-visits to common land each year, making a significant contribution to the rural economy through tourism
  • Nearly all common land is available for public access – over 1 million hectares. 39% of Open Access Land is registered common land.

 Find out more about Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons here. The project is led by the Foundation for Common Land . The National Trust is the accountable body and the partnership also includes:

Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Dartmoor Commoners’ Council, Dartmoor National Park Authority,  Devon Wildlife Trust, Duchy of Cornwall, the Federations of Cumbria and Yorkshire Commoners, Friends of the Lake District, The Heather Trust, John Muir Trust, Lake District National Park Authority, The Moorland Association, National Farmers’ Union, National Sheep Association, Natural England, Open Spaces Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, South West Water, University of Cumbria, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.


National Lottery Heritage Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and partnership contributions.

Commons are for All project logo