Science & Environment Journalist
The Charter of the Forest and our lost Commons Rights
The Charter of the Forest is the 800 year old law which gives us as ordinary people our rights in Britain today – Magna Carta just protected the Norman barons from being taxed and imprisoned. The Charter of the Forest recognised the rights needed for people displaced from the Crown’s hunting forests such as Exmoor and Dartmoor, and today may give a legal underpinning to allowing everyone, especially poor people living in rural communities, the right to have access to food, fodder, household goods and other needs for life, a right currently being talked about by alternative economists as Universal Basic Income, which would be its equivalent today.
By knowing more about our lost rights (and rights which we may still have legally but have forgotten about) we can work towards changing the existing unfair systems, protect our common assets such as ancient woodlands, and make sure that young people in particular have opportunities to explore alternative more sustainable ways of living. The information we have lost is also just interesting in its own right, about the importance of woodlands for everyone, and the rights of pannage, estovers, agistment and other archaic practices from the days before plastic. This talk is a mixture of performance, history, smallholding skills, and some fun sedition.
Myc Riggulsford is a science & environment journalist, specialising in climate change, renewable energy, biodiversity, soils, crops, ancient woodland and other issues, and has become increasingly concerned about land rights, the loss of our Commons, and the new field of Natural Capital (Ecosystem Services) which are the resources we get, apparently for free and forever from the world around us as clean air, clean water, and soils to grow our food.
He published ‘The Charter of the Forest & our lost Commons Rights’ in the book ‘Evolving the Forest‘ issued by Art.Earth in December 2020 – based on the Royal Forestry Society’s annual conference celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Forestry Commission, held at Dartington Hall, Devon in June 2019.
Myc is also a smallholder farming organically in North Devon for over 20 years, with an interest and practice in traditional rural crafts such as coppicing and hedge-laying, and recently planted 8 acres of new woodland.