The commons are areas of open unenclosed moorland, that are privately owned but which other locals have rights to put their livestock on. These are referred to as common rights. The commons are areas of semi-natural vegetation, much of which is designated not only nationally as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) but also has international recognition as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The granite geology and the lack of intensive farming systems has helped ensure the survival of extensive archaeological landscapes. Dartmoor has amongst the finest prehistoric remains in North West Europe. Find out more about Heritage
The public also has a right of access to the commons on foot and horseback through the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985. This right is governed by the Dartmoor National Park Byelaws Not all the common is suitable for riders as much of the moor is very boggy. The Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 provides for the setting up of a Commoners' Council. This is a Statutory Body that has responsibility for the good husbandry of the commons.
The Dartmoor Commoners' Council Regulations were prepared under Section 5 of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985.Many of the commons have signed up to agri-environmental schemes run by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). These schemes are partnerships between commoners, landowners and Defra to ensure that these areas are managed to maximise their conservation interest. To aid this process all the statutory agencies that have an interest in the management of the moorland along with the Dartmoor Commoners Council worked together to agree a common vision for Dartmoor up to 2030.