Commons

Elinor Ostrom

What Elinor Ostrom can teach us about ecology, common ownership and community

Aaron Vansintjan
| 9th March 2018
Elinor Ostrom provides invaluable insights into economics and ownership - and the profound impact this has on our natural environment. Unfortunately, her work is not well known or widely understood. Derek Wall hopes to change that with his book, Elinor Ostrom’s Rules for Radicals. AARON VANSINTJAN met the author and asked why we should read her works today

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Gathered on a remote stretch of beach at  Rekvik, Troms Fylke, Norway: 211 bottles and cans. Photo: Bo Eide via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

UN Ocean Conference: can the law protect our ocean ecosystems?

Elizabeth A Kirk
Nottingham Law School
| 1st June 2017
With the UN Ocean Conference beginning in New York next week, Elizabeth A Kirk asks: can we devise a legal system that promotes the ecological resilience of the oceans? To do so will mean placing ecosystems at the heart of decision making, over and above countries' selfish 'national interests'. It will be tough, but if we fail it's hard to see how the gamut of problems - from ocean acidification to plastic pollution and overfishing - can ever be solved.

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These trees along Idaho's Selway River may be harboring insects, fungi and bacteria - best cut them down quick to maintain forest health! Photo: Friends of Clearwater.

Catastrophic 'anti-infestation' logging threatens US National Forests

Brett Haverstick
| 10th April 2017
A fresh wave of logging is hitting America's national forests, writes Brett Haverstick. But this time it's all for the sake of 'forest health' and 'fire prevention'. It might look like industrial clear-cutting to you and me, but really, it's in a good cause. And if the forests and precious ecosystems they harbor just happen to perish in the process ... well ain't that just too bad?

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Vezo fishers primarily use only traditional fishing methods - their boats have no motors and the dive without scuba gear. Thriving markets for shark fin and sea cucumbers, however, are changing many aspects of the way they live. Photo: © Garth Cripps.

Madagascar's 'sea nomads' are the new ocean defenders

Charlie Gardner
| 8th June 2016
The Vezo, Madagascar's indigenous 'sea nomads', are travelling hundreds of miles to the remote 'Barren Isles', the Indian Ocean's largest locally-managed marine protected area, writes Charlie Gardner. Drawn by valuable shark fins and sea cucumbers, sold into Chinese markets, the Vezo are now joining with local fishers to protect the ecosystem and expel illegal divers.

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Maud Lake, Desolation Wilderness, El Dorado County, California. Photo: Blake Lemmons via Flickr (CC BY).

Wilderness is the salvation of the American West

George Wuerthner
| 9th May 2016
The quiet desperation of declining towns and cities across America's West is understandable, writes George Wuerthner. Of course people dream of the 'good old days' when there were wild prairies to be grazed, forests to be felled and oil wells to be sunk - and try to bring them back. But in so doing they neglect and abuse their real and enduring wealth: nature, landscape and wildlife.

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Loure's personal experiences, cultural background, and education put him in a unique position to lead the Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), an NGO that has championed community land rights and sustainable development in northern Tanzania for the past

Securing communal land rights for Tanzania's Indigenous Peoples

Sophie Morlin-Yron
| 25th April 2016
Commuting between land rights negotiations in the city and herding goats on the plains, Edward Loure is at once a traditional Maasai and a modern urbanite, writes Sophie Morlin-Yron. That ability to straddle the two very different worlds he inhabits has been key to his success at having 200,000 acres of land registered into village and community ownership - and his own 2016 Goldman Prize.

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Plastic pollution found on a shoreline in Norway. Photo: Bo Elde via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Public Trust Doctrine requires governments to protect our oceans!

Deb Wright
| 9th March 2016
A legal principle dating from Roman times is ripe for use in protecting our waste-filled and over-exploited seas and oceans, writes Deb Wright. Under the 'Public Trust Doctrine' governments are entrusted to protect shared natural resources from abuse, and can be held accountable for neglect of their duties.

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At a memorial for killed occupier LaVoy Finicum, guns were openly displayed. Photo: Peter Walker.

After Malheur, the end of the beginning: war for America's public lands rages on

Peter Walker
University of Oregon
| 23rd February 2016
Those who value public lands - for economic, environmental, recreational and aesthetic values - owe a debt of gratitude to Harney County, Oregon, writes Peter Walker. A violent branch of the Sagebrush Rebellion came to town, and the community told it to go away: the decisive factor in the occupiers' defeat. But the greater war for America's public lands has only just begun.

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In a 'Wild West' town like Burns, Oregon, federal officials can't afford to clash with local ranchers and politicians - no matter what the law says. Photo: Wolf / Nick Perla via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

After Malheur: Americans are losing control of our public lands

George Wuerthner
| 12th February 2016
The public interest is already derelicted by federal officials on the US's public lands routinely intimidated by aggressive local economic and political interests, writes George Wuerthner. And now it's only going to get worse, with media coverage of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge debacle uncritically promulgating the false narrative of over-zealous enforcement of regulations.

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Women in Jepara's teak forest area harvest ground nuts, Central Java, Indonesia, June, 2009. Photo: Murdani Usman / Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Local communities, not global financiers, are the best forest managers

Isaac Rojas
Friends of the Earth International
| 2nd November 2015
A new paradigm of forest conservation is gaining ground, writes Isaac Rojas: 'financialising' them and the climate and ecological services they provide to global investors. But this is a false solution - and one that excludes the local and indigenous forest communities who can truly be relied upon to sustain their sylvan heritage.

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All rights reserved! Image: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

All rights reserved! The final leaked TPP text is all that we feared

Jeremy Malcolm
EFF
| 12th October 2015
The leaked chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership chapter on intellectual property represents a wholesale attack on internet freedom, investigative journalism, and the wider creative commons, writes Jeremy Malcolm. While massively advancing corporate financial interests in binding clauses, the parts that purport to protect information users are soft guidelines that cannot be enforced.

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Old water tank in Niland, California. Photo: Kevin via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

The water is ours!

Javan Briggs
| 7th October 2015
Water is life, writes Javan Briggs. And it belongs to all of us. California's water shortage is caused, not by 'drought', but by massive long term over-pumping. And as the crisis worsens, the response under the 'water as property' model is just to pump all the harder. We must manage water as a commons - to sustain us all, not to profit the few.

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Scotland's Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil with Kimberley Stoddart, a tenant of West of Scotland Housing Association. Photo: Scottish Government via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Community Energy Fortnight - to participate is to resist!

Jonathon Porritt
| 11th September 2015
This year's Community Energy Fortnight is taking place at a strange time, writes Jonathon Porritt, with the entire renewable energy industry under government attack as never before. What can we do about it? For a start, by joining in some of the hundreds of events that are taking place across the UK!

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The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. Cairn Gleamnach in the foreground, Drumderg wind farm behind. Photo: Stuart Anthony via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Who owns the wind?

Adam Ramsay
| 29th July 2015
The wind is a force of nature over which only someone with extraordinary delusions of grandeur can truly claim ownership, writes Adam Ramsay. But to prevent that, we must assert our belief that wind, sun and other drivers of our renewable future are a common heritage for us all to benefit from.

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Quechua mother and child in the Sacred Valley near Qosqo (Cusco), Peru. Photo: Thomas Quine via Flickr (CC BY).

Enclosing the indigenous commons in highland Peru

Arthur Scarritt
| 14th July 2015
Under the guise of a land-titling project, Peru is breaking up and privatising indigenous common lands across the Andean highlands, writes Arthur Scarritt. While the law provides for communal titling and democratic votes, in practice there's no provision for communities to exercise these rights, and the many are being dispossessed in favour of large, 'efficient' market-oriented producers.

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Whose water is it anyway? Photo: ricardo / zone41.net via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

California is the 'canary in the coalmine' of global drought

Maude Barlow
| 1st July 2015
California's drought is a harbinger of things to come around the world, writes Maude Barlow. Because of global warming, yes - but also because the Golden State is an exemplar of the 'water as property for corporate profit' neoliberal paradigm that's taking over the world. It's now essential to assert water as a Commons - to be both justly shared, and fiercely protected!

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The Bois Dormoy is a unique green oasis in the heart of metropolitan Paris and its multicultural community. It should be treasured, not destroyed! Photo; via Bois Dormoy on Facebook.

Paris must remember: climate solutions are small, local, green, and begin at home

Marc Brightman
| 17th June 2015
As Paris prepares for COP21 in Paris, Marc Brightman finds that the city is in the grip of a benign but ignorant authoritarianism that is ready to trample on much-loved green spaces like the Bois Dormoy, reclaimed from dereliction by the multicultural local community, which represent real solutions to the global problems of food, climate, the future of our cities, and our place in nature.

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The edge of an experimental sheep grazing exclusion zone (to the right) within Al Talila Reserve, Palmyra, photographed in March 2008 in the midst of an intense drought period. Sheep quasi uncontrolled grazing was allowed to the left of the fence. Grazing

Over-grazing and desertification in the Syrian steppe are the root causes of war

Gianluca Serra
| 5th June 2015
Civil war in Syria is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes Gianluca Serra - a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a 'rural intifada' of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves.

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A young Bonobo: the species is at riosk as logging in the Congo Basin fragments their forest habitat and opens up new areas to poachers. Photo: via Greenpeace.

End the Congo logging chaos for rainforest, people and bonobos!

Raoul Monsembula
Greenpeace Africa
| 1st June 2015
Industrial logging in the world's second largest rainforest is out of control, writes Raoul Monsembula, and spells disaster for both wildlife and forest people. There is an alternative: community forestry has just been enshrined in law. But resources must be committed to law enforcement in Congo and abroad, and to empowering forest communities.

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Local community forest land cleared and planted by Golden Veroleum in Butaw District, Sinoe County, previously contained areas of high quality forest many stories high. A woman from a nearby village described that "way back we had land to make farms and

To make palm oil 'sustainable' local communities must be in charge

Forest Peoples Programme
| 14th May 2015
The palm oil industry's repeated failure to keep its promises illustrates why global initiatives to achieve 'sustainable palm oil' must place communities centre-stage, writes FPP. Standard-setters like the RSPO must demand action, enforcement and accountability - not just lofty commitments that inspire hope, but rarely deliver.

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