The Federation have teamed up with the Foundation for Common Land (FCL) to deliver one of 46 DEFRA Tests and Trials (T & T) currently in progress in England. These T & Ts are informing the development and design of DEFRA’s new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM). Back in July 2020 Jo Swiers was recruited to coordinate our joint T & T. Here’s an update from Jo.

Six months in: Test phase

Six months into our work on delivering the Commons Test and Trial we’re making steady progress. But i have spent far more time than I would ever have thought meeting and talking to people on Zoom!

Despite the restrictions due to  COVID-19 we’ve recruited four Commons for the first phase of our Test and Trial. These are in the North York Moors, Dartmoor, the Cotswolds and the Lake District. 

Working with a range of commons 

We  aim to have a mix of Commons that display a good range of issues to tackle::

  • From an organisational point of view – we’ve got a common with no established association or committee, to others that are part of a very structured and formal set up.
  • From a user’s ‘point of view – we’ve got a mix of grazing (cattle, sheep and ponies) shooting, golf playing, hiking and MoD firing (that we know of)
  • From a conservation point of view – we’ve got a fairly wide range of habitats and designations covering lowland and upland commons.

Delivery model 

Our Test and Trial is working up a proposed ‘delivery model’ for all those who have a stake in delivering ELMs on a common. The delivery model looks something like this:

Baseline maps of the public goods. The graziers are having a go at this individually then we’ll pool together their efforts and agree a ‘baseline’ map for each Common. The next stage will look at a ‘10 year’ map – plotting what public goods and management on the Common could look like after 10 years of an ELM agreement.

A Commons Management Plan will describe the agreed actions to be delivered.

A Toolkit including guidance, tips and templates needed to put together an ELM agreement.

In Phase 2 of the project later in the Summer we’ll test out whether what we’ve done could work!


We’re planning more webinars and online workshops in the coming months – with hopefully some face-to-face meetings in the Summer, when we’re planning to gather feedback from a wider group of Commoners. We’ll keep you up to date with opportunities to feed in.