A combination of factors, including privatization, agricultural intensification, population growth, and ecosystem degradation have caused common property areas to dwindle in size, quality, and availability to the poor in much of the world (Beck and Nesmith 2001:123). In some areas, common lands are converted to private parcels as a form of land reform or decentralization, or to spur development. Or common property resources may be leased out to private enterprises in the form of fishing or timber concessions. In either case, the poor may lose access to resources they once relied on.
Jodha estimates that in the areas covered by his study the extent of common lands has declined by 31 to 55 percent since the 1950s, mainly because of privatization through land reform (Jodha 1995:23). He estimates that in 1951 the average number of persons per 10 hectares of CPRs ranged from 13 to 101; by 1982, that number had risen to over 47,000 per 10 hectares in some villages. The increased pressure this has put on the remaining commons has led to overexploitation and a decline in the quality and quantity of services they yield (Jodha 1995:23). Degraded common lands undoubtedly make up a large part of the 75-130 million hectares of India’s land that has been classed as