Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

CLTS Working Papers,
Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies

No 2/15: Enclosure Norwegian Style: the Withering Away of an Institution

Erling Berge () and Anne Sigrid Haugset
Additional contact information
Erling Berge: Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Postal: Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Aas, Norway
Anne Sigrid Haugset: Trøndelag R&D Institute,

Abstract: More than 200 years after the King sold one of the “King’s commons” of Follafoss (located in the current Verran municipality) to urban timber merchants, local people in some ways still behave as if the area is a kind of commons. The paper will outline the history of the transformation of the area from an 18th century King’s commons to a 21th century battleground for ideas about ancient access and use rights of community members facing rights of a commercial forest owner and the local consequences of national legislation. The right of common to fish and to hunt small game without dog in Follafoss private commons was confirmed in a judgement of the Supreme Court in 1937 and in legislation on hunting in 1899 and 1951. In the Government’s proposal for new legislation on fishing in 1964 the right to fish was removed. And in 1981 the right to hunt was removed without saying a word about it, and it was never commented on in parliament during the legislative process. To explain what we observe it is suggested that a new layer of legislation on commons from 1857 and 1863 created a structural amnesia about private commons making it easy to remove them from legislation without anyone noticing.

Keywords: King’s commons; private forest; rights of common; customary rights; national legislation; loss of customary rights

JEL-codes: P48; Q15; Z13

32 pages, April 17, 2015

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