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The Long-Lasting but Changing Idea of Commonality in Mountain Regions

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Debarbieux, Bernard; Price, Martin F.
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1214
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Social Organization
Region:
Subject(s): mountain regions
governance and politics
Abstract: "Mountains have long been associated with the idea of commons. Many pastures, forests, and glacial and rocky areas have been collectively owned by municipalities or groups of people for centuries in Europe; and since the 18th century, State ownership became increasingly important, especially due to public forest policies and tourist policies in Europe and North America. Even when private property predominates, its uses have been frequently limited, notably because of collective imagination (according to the idea that 'mountains belong to nobody') and the territorial definition of public interest (i.e., good management of mountain regions can serve the development and well-being of the lowlands). This long history of commonality in mountain regions is of particular interest given that they have been acquiring a new status following the Rio Earth Summit at the international-transnational scale. This communication will (1) highlight the process of post-Rio global recognition of the ecological and cultural values of mountains, (2) discuss the idea that mountains may become a new global common good, and (3) suggest that they illustrate, with other ecologically- or geographically defined regions, a new kind of global common good. Therefore, mountain regions illustrate the historic transformation of the idea of commons: closely related to land-ownership for centuries, it has been more and more associated with public policies and right of use and, currently, with the identification of transnational and 'global' issues."

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