Forests in Common and Their Contribution to Local Development

  • Gun Lidestav
  • Nevenka Bogataj
  • Paola Gatto
  • Anna Lawrence
  • Olof Stjernström
  • Jenny Wong


In this chapter, we look at the role that a forest held in common can play in supporting local development and promoting the livelihood of the local community. Four dissimilar cases in Italy, Slovenia, Sweden and UK are described and analysed by applying the Sustainable Livelihood Framework. Despite very different pre-requisites and local conditions, our results show that all cases contain rules to maintain the extent and function of natural assets, and they contributed to the mobilisation of different types of capital. In each case there is evidence of interaction with higher governance levels, which protects the group’s room for action. The provision of access to natural and physical resources for rural people in a broader sense illustrates the cases’ orientation towards public good.


  1. Act. (2015). Zakon o agrarnih skupnostih (ZagRS). 003-027/2015-4, 1. 10. 2015.Google Scholar
  2. Act and by-law of ÄBS. (2010). Reglement för Älvdalens Besparingsskog. Lag om Allmänningsskogar i Norrland och Dalarna.Google Scholar
  3. Aldemark, L. (red). (1988). Skogen, älven och bygden. 100 år med Älvdalens besparingsskog. Jubileumsbok utgiven av Älvdalens jordägande sockenmän.Google Scholar
  4. Allison, E. H., & Ellis, F. (2001). The livelihoods approach and management of small-scale fisheries. Marine Policy, 25, 377–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anon. (2012). Forest commons—Role model for sustainable local governance and forest management. Proceedings from the International Workshop 9–11 October 2011 in Burbach, Germany. Booklet 22 of the State Forestry Administration series, North Rhine-Westphalia. State Forestry Administration, North Rhine-Westphalia, Münster, Germany.Google Scholar
  6. Bravo, G., & de Moor, T. (2008). The commons in Europe: From past to future. International Journal of the Commons, 2(2), 155–161. doi: 10.18352/ijc.98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carlsson, L. (1999). Still going strong, community forests in Sweden. Forestry, 72(1), 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Celetti, D. (2008). Il bosco nelle province venete dall’Unità ad oggi. Strutture e dinamiche economiche in età contemporanea (p. 372). Padova: Cleup.Google Scholar
  9. Chambers, R., & Conway, G. R. (1992). Sustainable rural livelihoods: Practical concepts for the 21st century. IDS Discussion Paper No. 296. IDS, Brighton, pp. 5–21.Google Scholar
  10. Chen, H., Zhu, T., Krott, M., Calvo, J. F., Ganesh, S. P., & Makoto, I. (2013). Measurement and evaluation of livelihood assets in sustainable forest commons governance. Land Use Policy, 30, 908–914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ciasa de ra Regoles. (various years). Bimonthly Bulletins of the Regole d’Ampezzo. Retrieved from
  12. Cocca, G., Sturaro, E., Gallo, L., & Ramanzin, M. (2012). Is the abandonment of traditional livestock farming systems the main driver of mountain landscape change in Alpine areas? Land Use Policy, 29(4), 878–886.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Corriere delle Alpi. (2016). Regole: Cortina dice no alle donne, a Costalta vince il sì. Corriere delle Alpi (Local newspaper). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from
  14. Deisinger, M. (2012). Po poteh dediščine meščanske korporacije Kamnik, unpublished, 94 p.Google Scholar
  15. Delcourt, P. A., & Delcourt, H. R. (1987). Long term forest dynamics of the temperate zone. Ecological Studies 63. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  16. DFID. (1999). Sustainable livelihoods guidance sheets. Department of International Development, UK. Retrieved February 2, 2016, from
  17. Ds Jo 1983: 15. Allmänningsutredningen. (1983). Skogsallmänningar: betänkande. Stockholm: Liber/Allmänna förlaget.Google Scholar
  18. Evans, D. (2012). Building the European Union’s Natura 2000 network. Nature Conservation, 1, 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Favaro, M., Gatto, P., Deutsch, N., & Pettenella, D. (2016). Conflict or synergy? Understanding interaction between municipalities and village commons (regole) in polycentric governance of mountain areas in the Veneto region, Italy. International Journal of the Commons, 10(2). doi: 10.18352/ijc.470.
  20. Forestry Commission Scotland. (2013). The National Forest Land Scheme. Retrieved from
  21. Gatto, P., & Bogataj, N. (2015). Disturbances, robustness and adaptation in forest commons: Comparative insights from two cases in the Southeastern Alps. Forest Policy and Economics, 58, 56–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Grossi, P. (1977). An alternative to private property (p. 1981). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  23. Holmgren, E. (2009). Forest commons in boreal Sweden: Aims and outcomes on forest condition and rural development. Acta Universitatis agriculturae Sueciae. Doctoral thesis, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, p. 96.Google Scholar
  24. Jeanrenaud, S. (2001). Communities and forest management in Western Europe. Gland: IUCN. Retrieved from
  25. Kaplan, J. O., Krumhardt, K. M., & Zimmermann, N. (2009). The prehistoric and preindustrial deforestation of Europe. Quaternary Science Reviews, 28, 3016–3034.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kardell, L. (2003). Svenskarna och skogen. Del 1. Från ved till linjeskepp. Jönköping: Skogsstyrelsen. ISBN 91 88 462-55-2.Google Scholar
  27. Klobčar, M. (2001). Transformacija meščanske zavesti v Kamniku. Traditio, 30(1), 253–277.Google Scholar
  28. Kluvánková, T., & Gežík, V. (2016). Survival of commons? Institutions for robustforest social—Ecological systems. Journal of Forest Economics. doi: 10.1016/j.jfe.2016.01.002.
  29. Lawrence, A., & Ambrose-Oji, B. (2015). Beauty, friends, power, money: Navigating the impacts of community woodlands. Geographical Journal, 181, 268–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lawrence, A., Bogataj, N., Gatto, P., & Lidestav, G. (2016). Across space and time: Making sense of community forest ownership and management in Europe. Forest ownership changes in Europe: Trends, issues and needs for action. Final conference of the COST action FP1201 FACESMAP.Google Scholar
  31. Lidestav, G., Poudyal, M., Holmgren, E., & Keskitalio, E. C. H. (2013, February). Shareholder perceptions of individual and common benefits in Swedish forest commons. International Journal of the Commons, 7(1), 164–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lorenzi, S., & Borrini-Feyerabend, G. (2010). Community conserved areas: Legal framework for the Natural Park of the Ampezzo Dolomites (Italy). Gland: IUCN.Google Scholar
  33. Lundberg, B., & Karlsson, S. (2002). Lokala utvecklingsstrategier—perspektiv, resurser och beroende. In B. Lundberg, G. Gustafsson, & L. Andersson (Eds.), Arvegods och nyodlingar (p. 47). Karlstad: Karlstad University Studies.Google Scholar
  34. Lundqvist, M., & Dahlgren, A. (2011). Älvdalens Besparingsskog—Historia och Framtid. Intellecta.Google Scholar
  35. McIntyre, J., & Frost, B. (2011). National Forest Land Scheme. Progress Report to the NFLS Evaluation Panel.Google Scholar
  36. McKean, M. A. (2000). Common property: What is it; What is it good for, and what makes it work. In C. C. Gibson, M. A. McKean, & E. Ostrom (Eds.), People and forest. Communities, institutions and governance. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  37. Merlo, M., Morandini, R., Gabbrielli, A., & Novaco, I. (1989). Collective forest land tenure and rural development in Italy, Selected case studies. FAO Library AN: 310197.Google Scholar
  38. Mikulcak, F., Haiderb, J. L., Absonc, D. J., Newigd, J., & Fischer, J. (2015). Applying a capitals approach to understand rural development traps: A case study from post-socialist Romania. Land Use Policy, 43(2015), 248–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Navone, P., & Shepherd, G. (1998). “Italy”. In G. Shepherd, D. Brown, M. Richards, & K. Schreckenberg (Eds.), The EU tropical forestry sourcebook. London: Overseas Development Institute, Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  40. Nylund, J.-J., & Ingemarsson, F. (2007). Forest tenure in Sweden—A historical perspective. Uppsala: The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Products.Google Scholar
  41. Pollard, A., & Tidey, P. (2009). Community woodlands in England. Baseline report for Forest Research. Smallwoods Report for Forest Research, Ironbridge.Google Scholar
  42. Regole d’Ampezzo. (2011). ‘Regole d’Ampezzo: The collective ownership in the Ampezzo dolomites. Cortina: Print House.Google Scholar
  43. Regole d’Ampezzo. (various years of newsletter). Ciasa de ra Regoles. Retrieved from
  44. Salamon, L. M., & Sokolowski, A. W. (2016). Beyond nonprofits: Re-conceptualizing the third sector. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 27, 1515–1545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sands, R. (2005). Forestry in a global context. Wallingford: CABI Publishing.Google Scholar
  46. Sereni, E. (1955). Comunità rurali nell’Italia antica. Roma: Edizioni Rinascita.Google Scholar
  47. Solder, S. (1938). Älvdalen I väntan på Storskuftets genomförande. In Ävdalens sockens besparingsskog och skogsmedelsfond 1888–1938. Tryckeri A.-B. Birger Jarl. Stockholm.Google Scholar
  48. Stewart, A., & Edwards, D. (2013). Number of community groups involved in owning or managing woodland: Scottish forestry strategy community development progress indicator. Edinburgh: Forest Research.Google Scholar
  49. Tagliapietra, C. (2011). Charters, partnerships and natural resources: Two cases of endogenous regulation in Italy. Economic Affairs, 31(2), 30–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Valenčič, V. (1957). Bistriški gozd in kamniški meščani. Kamniški zbornik, 3, 69–103.Google Scholar
  51. Westoby, J. (1989). Introduction to world forestry. People and their trees. Oxford and New York: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  52. Winkel, G., Blondet, M., Borrass, L., Frei, T., Geitzenauer, M., Gruppe, A., et al. (2015). The implementation of Natura 2000 in forests: A trans- and interdisciplinary assessment of challenges and choices. Environmental Science and Policy, 52, 23–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zanderigo Rosolo, G. (1982). Appunti per la storia delle regole del Cadore nei secoli XIII–XIV. Istituto per le Ricerche Sociali e Culturali.Google Scholar
  54. Živojinović, I., Weiss, G., Lidestav, G., Feliciano, D., Hujala, T., Dobšinská, Z., et al. (2015). Forest land ownership change in Europe. COST Action FP1201 FACESMAP Country Reports, Joint Volume. EFICEEC-EFISEE Research Report.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gun Lidestav
    • 1
  • Nevenka Bogataj
    • 2
  • Paola Gatto
    • 3
  • Anna Lawrence
    • 4
  • Olof Stjernström
    • 5
  • Jenny Wong
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Forest Resource ManagementSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Slovenian Institute for Adult EducationLjubljanaSlovenia
  3. 3.Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and ForestryUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly
  4. 4.University of the Highlands and IslandsInvernessUK
  5. 5.Department of Geography and Economic HistoryUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  6. 6.School of Environment, Natural Resources and GeographyUniversity of BangorBangorUK

Personalised recommendations