Re-building historical commons: How formal institutions affect participation in community forests in Galicia, Spain

M. Nieto-Romero*, C. Parra, B. Bock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


There has been considerable research studying how the formal institutionalisation of community forests affects participation of local communities. This paper studies a historical commons in Galicia in order to provide insight into how formal institutions are enmeshed with a forestry logic and how this shapes community participation in historical commons in Europe. More specifically, we offer an alternative explanation for low levels of participation, which goes beyond the usual argument of the abandonment of traditional activities. We use an institutional bricolage framework to understand the causal mechanisms by which formal institutions shape participation patterns (both exclusion-inclusion dynamics and the type of participation, namely strategic or affective). Our results show that, during the first period of implementation, most powerful commoners aggregated exclusionary institutions to capture forestry benefits. Formal institutions incentivised the strategic engagement of commoners in exchange for a forestry ‘share’. Later, educated commoners accessed the governing board and aggregated more inclusive institutions that allowed affective engagement and higher levels of participation in the commons. This created new affective relations while creating new exclusions. We conclude by highlighting the responsibility of the State and regional government in installing a forestry profit-seeking and extractive mentality among commoners, which is problematic for an active participation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107112
JournalEcological Economics
Early online date25 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Affective
  • Commoning
  • Commonland
  • Participation
  • Strategic


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    Project: EU research project

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