Year 2018, Volume 3, Issue 1

Year : 2018
Volume : 3
Issue : 1
Authors : José A. LOPES, Ignacio J. DIAZ-MAROTO
Abstract : Communal lands occupy about one million hectares in the northwest Iberian Peninsula with high average areas (500 hectares in Portugal and 200 in Galicia). The region is among the poorest in the European Union with a notably lower gross domestic product in comparison with the most developed regions of Europe. Over centuries, ‘Baldios’ in Portugal and ‘Montes Veciñais en Man Común’ (MVMC) in Galicia played an essential role in the rural economy of their owner’s communities. They were mainly used in forestry, but several reasons resulted in a current sub-utilization of them. This role was lost during the twentieth century due to great reforestation and a decline in agriculture prominence. The restoration of democratic regimes returned Baldios and MVMC to their owners, now declining, aging and disorganized. Taking into account the extension of these lands and their average size, this paper looks into the main historical determinants of the commons existence and tries to illustrate their present-day with reference to the collective action problem; features related to the commoners’ (‘veciños’ and ‘compartes’) characteristics and to the way they use their lands are analysed. Both Galician and Portuguese realities exhibit similarities and complementary benefits requiring social innovation to make better use of rural resilience. Communal lands and small-scale business initiatives could support the network of the local produce markets with attractive values, and also the conservation of the biodiversity. These data are discussed focusing at the human and natural resources.
For citation : Lopes, J.A., Diaz-Maroto, I.J. (2018). Communal lands and rural development in the northwestern Iberian peninsula. AGROFOR International Journal, Volume 3. Issue No. 1. pp. 76-83. DOI: 10.7251/AGRENG1801076L
Keywords : Common lands, northwest Iberian Peninsula, local development
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