The status of commons in the changing landscape in the Czech Republic

Authors

  • Alžběta Vosmíková Global Change Research Centre AS CR, v.v.i., Bělidla 4a, CZ-60200 Brno; Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Benátská 2, CZ-12900 Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Zdenka Krenova Global Change Research Centre AS CR, v.v.i., Bělidla 4a, CZ-60200 Brno; Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Benátská 2, CZ-12900 Prague, Czech Republic.

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.14712/23361964.2021.2

Keywords:

aerial images, commons, historical maps, land use changes

Abstract

Commons were ancient pastures, which once occurred in every village in many countries, including the Czech Republic. They have been a landscape and social phenomenon for decades. However, social and economic changes brought an end to community ownership and traditional management of these commons. The number of commons has been decreasing since the middle of the 19th century and currently very few remain. This paper evaluates the status of former commons in 35 cadastres in south-western Bohemia and describes the changes they have undergone in the last two hundred years. Three historical periods were identified as the main drivers in the changes in the status of commons. We started with a period from the middle of the 19th century to the 1950s, the second from 1950s to 1990s and the last from 1990s to 2019. Aerial images and field surveys revealed that 93% of former commons disappeared due to afforestation, conversion to fields and natural succession occurring on abandoned commons. The social and economic aspects associated with these changes are mentioned. Some of the commons are part of the Territorial system of landscape ecological stability (Ecological networks) and we suggest that more of the remaining commons should be included in this network. They could play a role in maintaining biodiversity and providing stepping stones in a uniform agriculture landscape. We propose to evaluate the conservation and ecosystem value of these commons in more detail and set up the appropriate management essential for the preservation or restoration of commons, an indisputable part of our biological and cultural heritage.

Published

2021-06-20

Issue

Section

Articles