ROMANIAN MOUNTAIN COMMONS PROJECT
The project investigated 20 of the 46 commons in the county, as in the map attached.
The investigated 20 commons count 55.195 ha of forest and 11.124 ha of pastureland, held in common by 20566 commoners. The average surface of a commons in the area is large, 3300 ha.
Some of the localities (Novaci and Bumbesti for example) have several commons.
Some of the commons in the area are organized "on mountains". Their registers and bookkeeping are separated into "mountains". This means that one community-based institution (obste) is subdivided into several different subgroups of commoners (cete de mosneni), said to descend from one lineage, and the resource is subdivided into several mountains, each with a certain number of rights attached. Initially, each subgroup held rights in one mountain, but in time the distinctions became blured, due to frequent intergroup marriages.
Localities with commons (obsti) studied in Gorj County.
**larger dots are localities with multiple commons attached
The distribution of shares in the commons is usually unequal. However, in the first part of the 20th century, some of the commons were organized on the principle of equal rights (for example obstea Cerbu from Novaci). Some of the commons started with equal shares after 2000 (for example obstea Dragoesti Dumbraveni from Crasna). Also, two commons have de jure unequal shares, but they distribute benefits in equal ways (obstea Bumbesti, obstea Aniniseni, Radoseni, Carpiniseni from Radosi).
Interactive map of researched commons in Gorj County. Please click on the red dots for details about each obște. Scroll down in data window for more information and click on photos and arrows for visualizing images. Source: Associative Environmentality data base 2017
Obștea Peștișani, case study
Obștea Peștișani (/'peʃ.ti.ʃa.nʲ/) is one of the largest commons in the Romanian Southern Carpathians, with 11.030 hectares. it is an example of 'corporate commons', with a marked orientation towards profit-generating investments. It extends over four administrative units. The Peștisani and Runcu village communes and the Tismana town in the North-Western part of the Gorj county and Uricani town in the South-West of Hunedoara County.
The forest land area counts 9863 ha and the mountain pasture counts 1167 ha. Before the socialist nationalization the area was separated into 12 mountains (composed of forest and pasture land), each belonging to a distinct obște. During the land restitution process (year 2000), the local land restitution committee decided to form a single obște out of all these different commons.
Its large area of land allowed the obște to found its own private forest district (ocol silvic). Recently, the obște also integrated a smaller obște of 165ha of forest and 65ha mountain pasture, of the Zamorani family from Frâncești village, a process called “fusion by absorption” by the obște president.
President of Obstea Pestisani 2016
Since the restitution of the obște land, the shares, locally called rights (drepturi), of the members are equated with ares (ari). 1 right, or 1 share, is the equivalent of 1 are (0.01 ha). The commons totals 1103080 shares, and counts currently 2835 members, 80% of which reside in the Peștișani village commune. Distribution of shares is unequal.
According to the president of the obște council, roughly 20% of the members have an insignificant amount of shares. The largest amount of shares one member holds is 14300 (equivalent to 143 hectares). The bylaws convey that no single member can hold more than 10% of the total shares, although the shares can be and are sold and bought between the members.
From its mostly coniferous forests, private logging companies extract annually 40.000 cubic meters of timber. Around 5000 animals, mostly sheep, graze on 826 ha of pasture rented out to livestock and diary producers. Most of the obște's revenue comes from these two sources. Other sources of revenue are rents from the hunting ground, production on a trout farm, a small wood processing activity and a B&B. A lot of hope for future revenues is put into a wind farm project.
The largest part of the revenue, around 70%, goes towards investments. The obște built new forest roads, developed the trout farm, the sawmill and the B&B. A part of the revenue is redistributed to the commons' members according to their shares in the form of dividends, and donations to the community. Other expenses include wages of 50 direct employees, and state taxes.
The obște contributes to the cultural and economic development of the commune. Around 400 persons work in Peștișani, most of them in the wood processing industry, which is supported with timber from the obște. The commons donates money regularly to cultural entities like the churches, the village folk culture group, an arts camp, and also assists financially families in need, sponsors scholarships and other prizes.
Obstea invested in a trout farm and a touristic lodge, with the intention to diversify sources of revenue. The profit gets further redistributed to members.
Obstea sells firewood from the commons' forests to private local entrepreneurs who sell to members and other clients further south. In this way, the commons contribute to local forestry industry. Obstea does not distribute firewood directly to members in this case, only cash dividends.