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Several thousand years of commons expertise

For several thousand years Brits expertly managed common lands for birds, animals and themselves - and fought to keep them from being enclosed by wealthy and powerful landowners. See Robert Kett.

For several thousand years British fishermen protected the fishing grounds - until the European Union destroyed them.

The first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics supports this history of local expertise.

Elinor Ostrom defied conventional wisdom with studies that showed that user-managed properties - such as community fish stocks or woodland areas - more often than not were better run than standard theories predicted.

"Since we have found that bureaucrats sometimes do not have the correct information while citizens and users of resources do, we hope it helps encourage a sense of capacity and power," the Indiana University professor told a news conference via telephone.


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