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Common Ground

Common Ground

Mark Everard | Jonathon Porritt


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Book Details


Common Ground explores the shifting relationship between human society and the landscapes that bear it. Examining the changing understandings of the natural world and its management and exploitation, environmental activist Mark Everard presents solutions in the nature of ecosystem services. Notwithstanding our total dependence on the Earth's natural resources, the relationship between humanity and the land has shifted significantly and frequently throughout our tenure, brief as it is relative to the evolution of planetary life. Appropriating increasing proportions of nature's resources to meet our shifting and growing demands, we have been degrading the quality and extent of ecosystems, nearly destroying their capacities to meet the needs of a burgeoning population. The book offers a fresh and vital whole-system approach to the key under-pinning the issue of sustainability. Everard looks ahead to what is required to live sustainably, respecting the central role of landscapes in supporting human wellbeing into the long-term future.
'This is a must-read for anyone concerned about the sustainability of the landscapes that support us. The book is based on the many societal benefits provided by ecosystems, exploring shifting perceptions of people's rights, priorities for land management and economic flows across landscapes, and suggesting a range of pragmatic implications for achieving sustainable 'living landscapes'.  Insightful, engaging and extremely well researched, 'Common Ground' is an indispensible guide for academics, policy-makers and the concerned public.' Jim Longhurst, Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of the West of England 'We have inherited a pattern of land ownership, which has a feudal and more recently, a market-driven derivation. However, we are only now starting to recognise the full multifaceted value of services associated with land and the surrounding ecosystem. The process of recognition, quantification and economic valuation of ecosystem services has been rapidly refined as the environmental limits of the functionality of ecosystems becomes clearer and nearer. In some cases markets for the newly described ecosystem service commodities develop, normally where transaction costs are low and economic beneficiaries can be clearly identified. This could be a positive step but the question remains, how can market forces be regulated to ensure that the needs of society are met locally and globally and that the services with a very diffuse, often remote benefit and with no exploitable market value, like biodiversity, are not lost in fray? This is the job for those who govern in the coming years and Mark's text sets out the task at hand, its origins and the current status quo and he uses graphic case studies to annotate his discussion and give life the his amazing overview of the subject area.' - Dylan Bright, Director, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Trustee, Association of Rivers Trusts 'Few people have grasped the need for humanity to reconnect itself to the planet’s landscape and natural resources more than Mark Everard, and this intuition is manifest throughout Common Ground. Ancient peoples relied totally on the Earth’s resources for their existence, but modern society is largely oblivious to this dependence, being more concerned over land ownership and exploitation, and the political power that ensues, than valuing the crucial services provided by properly managed, sustainable ecosystems. Global decision makers should be made to read this book before it is too late!' Paul Knight, CEO of the Salmon and Trout Association 'This is a skilful exposition of the historical, cultural, scientific and economic reasons for mankind's short-sighted reductive disconnection from the environment. But more importantly it makes the powerful case for progressive reconnection-before it's too late: a common-sense recipe for human survival, readjusting current values and behaviours to meet future needs in a sustainable way-with real examples of how it can be done, given the political will. As such, this is a 'must-read' for all those shaping our future.' Paul Raven, former Head of Conservation and Ecology at the Environment Agency
Mark Everard is the author of six other books, over 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers and over 150 technical magazine articles. He has served on numerous government advisory and expert groups in the UK, as well as advising other governments and multinational corporations on sustainability matters.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
About the author i
Figures, tables and box vi
Acknowledgements vii
Foreword viii
Introduction 1
1 | The privatization of the land 4
Mobile communities and the land 4
Establishment of common rights 5
Settlement of communities and changing relationships with land and landscapes 5
Changing land use and rights in Europe 6
Enclosure, possession and shifting societal rights 8
Consolidating the rights of the oligarchy 10
Capture by the new economic elite 12
2 | Reclaiming the common good 15
Recovering common benefits 15
Subsidies for the common good 17
Regulation for the common good 20
Common law for the common good 23
Rights in transition 24
Governance for the common good 26
Reclaiming public goods 29
3 | The ends of the Earth 31
Overriding nature’s limits 32
Rediscovering the Earth’s finite supportive capacities 33
Sharing the global commons 34
4 | Shifting conceptual landscapes 36
Paradigms of human understanding and action 36
The world view of reductionism 38
Recognition of unintended consequences for nature 40
Holism, humanity and ecosystems 41
Statutory measures reflecting holistic appreciation of ecosystems 43
Segregation of people and nature in an age of holism 45
The breakdown of holism in a changing world 46
New ways of managing ecosystems 48
Revolutionary science and decision-making 49
Stepping into the systems paradigm 49
Making the transition 52
5 | A landscape at our service 55
The integrating science of ecosystem services 55
A unified classification of ecosystem services 56
Table 5.1 The MA classification of ecosystem services 58
The findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 59
The ‘ecosystem approach’ 61
The power of ecosystem services 61
Seeing the systemic connections 63
‘Mainstreaming’ ecosystem services 64
6 | The great food challenge 66
Privileged access to food 66
The modern global challenge 68
The national challenge in England 69
Mobilization for food production 71
Cheap food at any cost 72
A renewed focus on food security 73
Charting a wiser course 74
Revolutions of many kinds 76
Sacrifices or trade-offs? 78
Learning from the exemplars 80
Integrating approaches to food production 82
Food for thought 84
7 | Valuing land and landscapes 85
Counting ecosystem benefits to society 85
Table 7.1 Benefits potentially derived from ecosystem services, with an indication of their scale of impact 86
Keeping the house in order 88
Markets for ecosystem services 90
Valuing ecosystem services 91
Methods for valuing ecosystem services 94
To value or not to value? 95
Valuation in support of sustainable and equitable decision-making 96
Streamlining the ecosystems approach in landscape-use decisions 100
Table 7.2 Semi-quantitative scoring of the likely effect of development options for each MA ecosystem service 101
Evolving markets for sustainability 102
Valuing the natural world; valuing all who share it 103
8 | Living landscapes 104
Tools for systemic management of land 104
Reconnections 105
Reconnections through flood risk management 106
Reconnecting land and water to addressflood risk 108
Reconnecting land use with production of fresh water 110
Freshening the spring 113
Farming for nature and water 115
Extension to landscape scale 117
Reconnecting land management with water, wildlife and people 119
Reconnections through river restoration 120
Creating markets for ecosystem services in living landscapes 122
Rethinking the private and public value of catchment land use 124
Figure 8.1 Illustrative orientation of land-use options against the axes of private and public benefit 125
Figure 8.2 Economic forces and connecting markets in a theoretical closed river catchment, and illustrative orientation of land uses reported in the Mvoti against the axes of private and public benefit 127
Applying the value model in the real world 126
Figure 8.2 Economic forces and connecting markets in a theoretical close driver catchment, and illustrative orientation of land uses reported in the Mvoti against the axes of private and public benefit 127
Reanimating landscapes 129
9 | Lessons for tomorrow’s world 131
Recognition of ecosystems as critical capital 132
Sublimation of competitive disciplines 133
Visionary legislation 135
Inclusive decision-making 138
Institutional and funding reforms 141
Pragmatic tools 142
Visionary planning 143
Novel models of governance 146
Respect for traditional wisdoms 149
Rights to land, landscapes and their associated ecosystem services 150
Striving for tomorrow’s world 151
10 | The people’s land 152
Cultural services 152
The Earth and human well-being 153
Turning the soil 155
A new ‘land ethic’ 156
Ethical frameworks 157
The axiom of science 158
Box 10.1 Moral stances rooted in thermodynamic and ecological principles 160
Governance for sustainability 161
The new democracy 166
Down to Earth 169
Notes 171
Acknowledgements and Introduction 171
Chapter 1 171
Chapter 2 173
Chapter 3 175
Chapter 4 176
Chapter 5 179
Chapter 6 180
Chapter 7 182
Chapter 8 184
Chapter 9 187
Chapter 10 189
Bibliography 192
Index 206