COMMUNAL TENURE IN HIGH MOUNTAIN MEADOWS AND FORESTS — Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Canto Classics) by Elinor Ostrom
Törbel, Switzerland, a village of about 600 people located in the Vispertal trench of the upper Valais canton,
For centuries, Törbel peasants have planted their privately owned plots with bread grains, garden vegetables, fruit trees, and hay for winter fodder. Cheese produced by a small group of herdsmen, who tend village cattle pastured on the communally owned alpine meadows during the summer months, has been an important part of the local economy.
Note:ECONOMIA: AGRICOLTURA PRIVATA. ALLEVAMENTO SU PASCOLI COMUNI
five types of communally owned property: the alpine grazing meadows, the forests, the “waste” lands, the irrigation systems, and the paths and roads connecting privately and communally owned properties.
Note:5 TERRENI, 5 DIRITTI
The law specifically forbade a foreigner (Fremde) who bought or otherwise occupied land in Törbel from acquiring any right in the communal alp, common lands, or grazing places, or permission to fell timber. Ownership of a piece of land did not automatically confer any communal right (genossenschaftliches Recht). The inhabitants currently possessing land and water rights reserved the power to decide whether an outsider should be admitted to community membership. (Netting 1976, p. 139)… Access to well-defined common property was strictly limited to citizens, who were specifically extended communal rights.
Note:DOCUMENTI DEL 1400: BANDITO LO STRANIERO
“no citizen could send more cows to the alp than he could feed during the winter” (Netting 1976, p. 139).
Note:QUANTE VACCHE ALL’ALPEGGIO?
Adherence to this “wintering” rule was administered by a local official (Gewalthaber) who was authorized to levy fines on those who exceeded their quotas and to keep one-half of the fines for himself.
This and other forms of cow rights are relatively easy to monitor and enforce.
the number of cows each family sends is the basis for determining the amount of cheese the family will receive at the annual distribution.
Note:IL NUMERO DI BESTIE È ANCHE LA BASE PER RIPARTIRE IL FORMAGGIO
The village statutes are voted on by all citizens and provide the general legal authority for an alp association to manage the alp. This association includes all local citizens owning cattle. The association has annual meetings to discuss general rules and policies and elect officials. The officials hire the alp staff, impose fines for misuse of the common property, arrange for distribution of manure on the summer pastures, and organize the annual maintenance work,
Private rights to land are well developed in Torbel and other Swiss villages. Most of the meadows, gardens, grainfields, and vineyards are owned by various individuals, and complex condominium-type
Note:DIFFUSA ANCHE LA PROPRIETÀ PRIVATA
The inheritance system in Törbel ensures that all legitimate offspring share equally in the division of the private holdings of their parents and consequently in access to the commons, but family property is not divided until surviving siblings are relatively mature (Netting 1972).
Note:EREDITÀ A DILAZIONE
for at least five centuries these Swiss villagers have been intimately familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of both private and communal tenure systems and have carefully matched particular types of land tenure
Note:ISTITUZIONI EMERSE DA UN TRIAL AND ERROR
(1) the value of production per unit of land is low, (2) the frequency or dependability of use or yield is low, (3) the possibility of improvement or intensification is low, (4) a large territory is needed for effective use, and (5) relatively large groups are required for capital-investment activities.
Note:QUANDO È INDICATA LA PROPRIETÀ COMUNE? LE CINQUE CONDIZIONI
Switzerland, farmers use private property for agricultural pursuits and a form of common property for the summer meadows, forests, and stony waste lands near their private holdings. Four-fifths of the alpine territory is owned by some form of common property: by local villages (Gemeinden), by corporations, or by cooperatives. The remaining alpine territory belongs either to the cantons or to private owners or groups of co-owners (Picht 1987, p. 4).
Note:IL SISTEMA TORBEL È ABBASTANZA DIFFUSO… 4/5
(1) the number of animals that can be fed over the winter,5 (2) the amount of meadowland owned by a farmer, (3) the actual amount of hay produced by a farmer, (4) the value of the land owned in the valley, or (5) the number of shares owned in a cooperative. A few villages allow all citizens to send equal numbers of animals to the summer alp (Picht 1987, p. 13).
Note:LA REGOLA PROPORZIONALE SUI DIRITTI
Overuse of alpine meadows is rarely reported.
Note:EVITATA LA TRAGEDIA DEI BENI COMUNI
All of the Swiss institutions used to govern commonly owned alpine meadows have one obvious similarity – the appropriators themselves make all major decisions about the use of the CPR. The users/owners are the main decision making unit.
Note:CHI DECIDE LE REGOLE? CHI USA. NON IL CITTADINO
Many of the rules they use, however, keep their monitoring and other transactions costs relatively low and reduce the potential for conflict.
Note:IMPORTANZA DELLA REGOLA SEMPLICE. NON C’È UNA SORVEGLIANZA PROFESSIONALE
The first step is that the village forester marks the trees ready to be harvested. The second step is that the households eligible to receive timber form work teams and equally divide the work of cutting the trees, hauling the logs, and piling the logs into approximately equal stacks. A lottery is then used to assign particular stacks to the eligible households. No harvesting of trees is authorized at any other time of the year.
Note:LA PROCEDURA PER IL TAGLIO DEGLI ALBERI
Combining work days or days of reckoning (where the summer’s cheese is distributed and assessments are made to cover the costs of the summer’s work) with festivities is another method for reducing some of the costs associated with communal management.
Note:LA FESTA. NEI GIORNI DI DISTRIBUZIONE DEL PRODOTTO, DEI DIRITTI O DI LOTTERIA.
In recent times, the value of labor has risen significantly, thus representing an exogenous change for many Swiss villages. Common-property institutions are also changing to reflect differences in relative factor inputs. Villages that rely on unanimity rules for changing their common-property institutions are not adjusting as rapidly as are those villages that rely on less inclusive rules
Note:CAMBIAMENTI: L’OSTACOLO DELL’ UNANIMITÀ
Hirano, Nagaike, and Yamanoka villages in Japan
Margaret A. McKean (1986) estimates that about 12 million hectares of forests and uncultivated mountain meadows were held and managed in common by thousands of rural villages during the Tokugawa period (1600–1867)
Note:QUANTIFICARE LA PROPRIETÀ COMUNE IN GIAPPONE
The villages are established on steep mountains where many microclimates can be distinguished. Peasants cultivate their own private lands, raising rice, garden vegetables, and horses.
Note:I TRE VILLAGGI GIAPPONESI. MOLTO SIMILI A TORBEL
The basis for political rights differed from one village to another. Rights were variously based on cultivation rights in land, taxpaying obligations, or ownership rights in land.
Note:IL PARAMETRO PER DISTRIBUIRE I DIRITTI VARIA
In traditional Japanese villages, the household was the smallest unit of account, but the kumi, composed of several households, was frequently used as an accounting and distributional unit related to the commons….Consequently, households with many members had no advantage, and considerable disadvantages, in their access to the commons. Population growth was extremely low (0.025% for the period 1721–1846),…
Note:FAMIGLIA UNITÀ DI BASE. DISINCENTIVO DEMOGRAFICO
The rules used in these villages, like those in the Swiss villages, were tailored to the specific environment, to the particular economic roles that various forest products played in the local economy, and to the need to minimize the costs of monitoring labor inputs, resource-unit outputs, and compliance with the rules.
Note:CRITERI GUIDA DELLA REGOLAZIONE
A village headman usually was responsible for determining the date when the harvesting of a given product could begin.
Note:FISSARE LA DATA INIZIO LAVORI
… each kumi was assigned a zone according to an annual rotation scheme, and each household had to send one, but only one adult. On the appointed day, each representative reported to the appropriate kumi zone in the winter fodder commons and waited for the temple bell as the signal to begin cutting. However, this grass was cut with large sickles, and since it would be dangerous to have people distributed unevenly around their kumi zone swinging sickles in all directions, the individuals in each kumi lined up together at one end of their zone and advanced to the other end, whacking in step with each other like a great agricultural drill team. The grass was left to dry … and then two representatives from each house-hold entered the fodder commons to tie the grass up into equal bundles. The haul for each kumi was grouped together and then divided evenly into one cluster per household. Each household was then assigned its cluster by lottery. (McKean 1986, pp. 556–7)
Note:ESEMPIO DI REGOLA PER RACCOGLIERE IL FIENO
There were written rules about the obligation of each household to contribute a share to the collective work to maintain the commons – to conduct the annual burning (which involved cutting nine-foot firebreaks ahead of time, carefully monitoring the blaze, and occasional fire-fighting when the flames jumped the firebreak), to report to harvest on mountain-opening days, or to do a specific cutting of timber or thatch. Accounts were kept about who contributed what to make sure that no household evaded its responsibilities unnoticed. Only illness, family tragedy, or the absence of able-bodied adults whose labor could be spared from routine chores were recognized as excuses for getting out of collective labor…. But, if there was no acceptable excuse, punishment was in order. (McKean 1986, p. 559)
Most of the villages hired “detectives” who daily patrolled the commons on horseback in groups of two looking for unauthorized users. In some villages, this position was considered “one of the most prestigious and responsible available to a young man” (McKean 1986, p. 561).
One village that did not use formal detectives relied on a form of “citizen’s arrest,” and anyone was authorized to report violations.
Note:CITTADINO PUBBLICO UFFICIALE
“It was considered perfectly appropriate for the detective to demand cash and saké from violators and to use that as their own entertainment cache” (McKean 1986, p. 561). In addition to the fines paid to the detectives, violators were deprived of their contraband harvest, their equipment, and their horses.
The most serious sanctions that could be and occasionally were imposed involved complete ostracism or ultimately banishment from the village.
Note:PENA DI MORTE… CIVILE
Impatience with waiting for mountain-opening day was one reason.
Note:CAUSA PIÙ COMUNE D’INFRAZIONE
A second reason for rule violation sometimes was genuine disagreement about the management decisions of a village headman.
Note:DISACCORDO SULLE REGOLE
One former detective in Hirano, now a respected village elder, described how he had been patrolling a closed commons one day and came upon not one or two intruders but thirty, including some of the heads of leading households. It was not yet mountain-opening day, but they had entered the commons en masse to cut a particular type of pole used to build trellises to support garden vegetables raised on private plots. If they could not cut the poles soon enough, their entire vegetable crop might be lost, and they believed that the village headman had erred in setting opening day later than these crops required. (McKean 1986, p. 565)
Note:UN ESEMPIO DI VIOLAZIONE MASSIVA
In that instance, fines were imposed, but they involved making a donation to the village school, rather than the usual payment of saké.
SANZIONE PARTICOLARE NEL CASO DI VIOLAZIONI MASSIVE