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The benefits of the commons. A historical approach to the collective property, use and management of natural resources and its effect on environment and society


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Main topic



Even though for many years the analysis of the use of the commons has been linked with impoverishment and depletion of resources, nowadays this point of view is changing. Following the focusing way of earlier writers, we all are understanding the positive aspects of those practices that have endured for centuries. Nevertheless the discussion is not closed and it is yet worthwhile to carefully compare in which environments are commons really beneficial.

In our proposal we want to: 

  1. provide analytical tools to be checked on line:  data about social and environmental aspects from entities that manage common resources and in particular about production and trade of forest resources;
  2. analyse the possible impact of the common property to social identity and its impact on the sostenibility of the resources and the society as entity;
  3. study the impact that colonization processes, migration, trade and cultural exchange on the ways property, use and management of resources  has been modified;
  4. study the market of forest resources and its relation with the evolution of the commons during the 20th century;
  5. see how the radically new problems that are arising as new policy-makers (autonomous administrations, European authorities), new goods (energy, industrial location, leisure goods, information), and new customers (tourists, migration) all interact.

We also want to keep on with this interdisciplinary dialogue among historians, economists and other social scientists, and continue with our presence in international fora and in particular to be directly involved with the diffusion in Spanish of the IASC.


  • Workshop 'The contribution of the commons. The effect of collective use and management of natural resources on environment and society in European history', Pamplona-Iruñea (Spain),  November 6th-7th, 2009.
  • Editing of  'Campos cerrados, debates abiertos. Propiedad de la tierra y análisis histórico en Europa, ss.XVI-XX', Pamplona, Universidad Pública de Navarra, 2007 (R. Congost and J.M. Lana, editors).


  • Public University of Navarra (UPNA-NUP): Joseba De-la-Torre, Josemari Aizpurua, Alejandro Arizkun, Juan Madariaga, Emilio Majuelo, Gloria Sanz-Lafuente, Loreto Llorente, Fernando Mendiola, Pedro Galilea, Javier Puértolas
  • University of Zaragoza: Iñaki Iriarte-Goñi, Francisco Beltrán
  • University of Granada: Antonio Ortega-Santos, Nadia Martínez-Espinar
  • University of Santiago de Compostela: Ana Cabana
  • University of Extremadura: Antonio-Miguel Linares
  • Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM): Jesús Izquierdo
  • University of Castilla La-Mancha: Oscar Bascuñán
  • Foreign collaborators: Tine de Moor, Erling Berge, Leticia Merino

Funding body

Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spanish Ministery of Science and Innovation)

Reference HAR2009-09700/HIST


José-Miguel Lana

Contact details

José-Miguel Lana

Department of Economy


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