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Carta de Foresta: The Charter of the Forest Turns 800

November 2017

Citation: 47 ELR 10934

Issue: 11

Author: Daniel Magraw and Natalie Thomure

The Forest Charter is one of the world’s first pieces of environmental and natural resources legislation and the earliest example of democratic environmental governance. The Forest Charter radically changed rights relating to Royal Forests in 13th century England, and in so doing significantly diminished the power of the king relating to forests, improved the system of forest courts that provided justice from then until modern times, converted parts of the Royal Forests into commons, returned other parts to private owners, served to mediate forest-related conflicts, and thus helped ensure sustainable forest use until the present day. This Comment explores why the Forest Charter is not as well known as the Magna Carta and why it is worth knowing about.

Daniel Magraw is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute and professorial lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and President Emeritus of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). Natalie Thomure has an M.A. in International Relations and International Economics from SAIS and a B.A. in International Studies and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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