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Comparing Legal Mechanisms for Managing Resources in Non-Arable Lands in Navarra, Spain, and Norway

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Berge, Erling; Aizpurua, Josemari; Galilea, Pedro
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/961
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Social Organization
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources--comparative analysis
institutions--comparative analysis
property rights
customary law
land tenure and use
Abstract: "Institutions governing the usage of non-arable rural lands, including forest, grasslands and shrublands in Navarre will be compared to equivalent institutions in Norway. About 47% of the land areas of Navarre are lands held in common. About one third of the surface of mainland Norway can be classified as some type of commons. If nothing else, the size of the areas and their long history make the commons important for these two societies. "The Fueros of Navarre were first written down in 1155. Before that time they were customary law. The name, 'fueros', means codified local customs. Also other parts of Spain got their Fueros at that time. They are comparable to the landscape laws of northern Europe, which also were being codified at about the same time. When Ferdinand of Castile and Aragon annexed Navarre in 1512, the Navarre people were promised that the Fueros would be respected. They kept their powers of self-governance more or less intact until 1841. However, for the management of non-arable rural land used in common they survived in many parts of Navarre as customary law well into the 20th century. "The Norwegian landscape laws were in 1274 replaced by a common law code. During the union with Denmark (1380-1815) and Sweden (1319-1363, 1814-1905), the rules governing the utilization of the non-arable rural lands called commons (or Kings commons) were basically unchanged until 1857 even though important amendments were introduced and the area covered by the rules much diminished. In 1857 new legislation, later rewritten several times, lastly in 1992, defined 3 types of commons. "The preliminary investigations and comparisons of Navarre and Norway have raised two profound questions. The first puzzle is the large amount of commons in Navarre; or rather, the almost complete failure in Navarre of the 19th century Spanish privatisation policy, both relative to the rest of Spain and relative to 18th century Norway. Why is Navarre special? The second puzzle grows out of the comparison of allocation procedures for the resources of the commons. If both societies champion equality, why does it take so different forms? In Navarre the first priority of the legislation on the village commons is to secure a distribution of the access that can help achieve a more equitable income distribution. The rules of distribution give a strong preference to the poorest of the village families. In Norway there is nothing resembling efforts at compensatory distribution. On the contrary, those with the largest farms will also have the largest rights in the commons. Yet, Norway is known as a very egalitarian society. What does this difference in implementing a common value really mean? "We will not in the present paper be able to answer these questions. The questions are more in the line of conclusions to the paper. We start by outlining the major institutions governing one type of commons in each society, the village commons of Navarre, and the state commons of Norway. We will look for similarities and differences in types of legal procedures: the formal rules of the institution governing the commons. We end by discussing some of the collective action problems encountered and types of solutions enacted. And conclude that more work will be needed to answer the basic question of what kind of values the institutions embody."

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