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Commons in Urban Industrialized Society

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Carlsson, Lars
Conference: Voices from the Commons, the Sixth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Berkeley, CA
Conf. Date: June 5-8, 1996
Date: 1996
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/427
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Urban Commons
Region: Europe
Subject(s): common pool resources
urban commons
Abstract: "Common forests are often associated with developing countries. Overpopulation, lack of technical and economic resources, deforestation and a tension between central bureaucracies and local people are significant characteristics for a great number of commons in these countries. This paper focuses on a quite different situation: the role of common forests in an industrialized country. The Swedish common forests have survived for more than one hundred years; no deforestation has been observed and the total amount of biomass is increasing. The commons are regarded by experts as well managed both in terms of efficiency and with regard to the preservation of biodiversity. Compared to other types of ownership the commons have a very special organization. The base consists of 25,000 individual shareholders with property rights in the forests. This medieval pattern of ownership seems to survive; moreover it seems to be quite prosperous within the realm of modern society with its highly competitive forest industries. This paper explains why the Swedish common forests have survived as vital and competitive actors in the timber market. Three main explanations are discussed: the commons' conscious attempts to reduce transaction costs, their general inventiveness in adjusting to changed circumstances, and their acclimatization to the logic of the negotiated economy characterized by fuzzy borders between different sectors."

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