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Commons: Past and Present, in Mediterranean Societies: Property Rights and Modes of Use

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ortega Santos, Antonio
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1032
Sector: Forestry
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
land tenure and use--history
property rights--history
social organization--history
Abstract: "Our research is focused in the district of Baza (Granada, Spain) and covers the whole of the Guadiana menor river basin, in a fairly high plain with an altitude of around 1000 m. on the outer parts and about 900 m. in its central part between the mountain ranges of Sierra Nevada and Sierra de Baza. The semicontinentalized and cold nature of this area merely on extension of the climate wich affects the mountains area of the north of Granada, leads a high degree of aridity, wich is the most distinctive climatic feature in this depression the annual rainfall is not more than 350 litres, so this easy term is dominated by aridity and a litological feature (calcic and eutric regosols and cambisols) which limited and generated a geographical structure of vegetation with Quercus faginea and rotundifolia, pinus nigra and in the most degradated area, esparto (stipa tenacissima) and rosemary. "II. Methodological approach to the study of public woodlands, patterns of use and forestry delinquency. The main aim of this article is set out the historical evolution of socioeconomic functionality of public woodlands in rural communities of southern Spain from the mid XVIIIth century. In order to do so, the pattern of use concept has been adopted as a methodological tool of analysis with starting with a criticism of the Marxist concept of patterns of production offer a integrated vision of kinds of property, allocation and distribution of natural resources. So there is a change referred to in the socioeconomic functionality of woodlands, thus should be understood as the subordination of peasant pattern of use, in which the woodlands were a source of energy and food for peasant groups, to a commercial pattern of use exercised by means of public auctions of forest products (supported by a forestry legislation with a productive concept of woodlands). So we must approach to consider the evidence of forestry delinquency not only as an element of social conflict, but as response to the reallocation of property rights and use of national resources. "III. Historic definition of property rights in woodlands. After the expulsion of the Moors at the end of 16th century, the Crown encouraged a repopulation process of the territory, conceding a portion of land to each new settler which included ploughed land and a section of woodlands for collection of wood and grazing. Thus, this factor was giving rise to a legal confusion, which meant that in the second mid of the XIXth century the 'Desamortizacion' (disposal of institutional lands) of 1855, did not affect these woodlands as they were indistinctively qualified as common land (for their use) or a private property (as result of the legal ownership) arguing that the villagers were the heirs of the original owners of Settlers' Lots. "IV. Historical transformation of pattern of use. Forestry offences show the confrontation arising between activities related to values of use to obtaining levels of social reproduction for rural communities and activities which were progressively subordinated to the logistics of market exchange (auctions of forestry products, dependence of peasant economies on salaries,etc.). In the confrontation of peasant and commercial patterns of woodlands we can define: a) Intromodal conflicts in management of forestry resources 1750-1860: hegemony of agricultural/silvicultural/grazing system transformed by progressive illegalisation of peasant pattern of use in order to extend a dynamic of dispossession (O_Connor, 1994), and b) Intermodal conflicts, 1860-1980, viability or confrontation of peasant and commercial patterns of use in public woodlands: degree of survival peasant pattern of use of public woodlands and degree of penetration of individual and market uses."

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