The Allmänning societies i Norrbotten began about 100 years ago as a result of land ownership changes (“Avvittringen”) that were meant to favour agriculture and settlement in these inland areas. ”Avvittringen” is a legal term which implies that the forest area is divided between the state and citizens. The first step was to determine how large an area each farming residence should be allocated. On the advice of the county governer H A Widmarks, the farmers decided to decline 25% of the allocated forest land in able to build the communally owned areas called “Sockenallmänningar”.
Jokkmokk’s Allmänning was established on the 27th November 1886 at the landowner’s meeting in Jokkmokk at which Widmark was Chairman. The decision gained Royal approval via a letter dated the 5th April 1889, which is regarded as the society’s “birthday”. The territory of Jokkmokk Allmänningen was divided up into 18 areas (“skift”) and according to the proclamation consisted of :
Effective area for forestry: 38 870.29 hectares
Impeded: 29 890.00 hectares
Total: 68 760.29 hectares
It was therefore due to the initiative of the County Governer Widmark that the Norrbotten parish Allmänning were created from ¼ of the allocated land from the individual homesteads being contributed to the new societies. This implied that all homestead owners in the parish that worked the land, became shareholders of the Allmänningen. The background to Widmark’s policy of land distribution was the rapid expansion of the sawmill industry during this period. His idea was to establish these societies to create a Foundation that looked after both the individual and joint interests of the farmers. This measure inhibited the ambitions of the foresty companies who aimed to secure access to raw materials for the timber industry from the immense untapped forest resources up north.
The Allmänning societies are regulated by a special Swedish law (SFS 1952:167) and each individual allmänning also has it’s own set of rules to abide by.
Allmänningen has supported Jokkmokk council and its inhabitants in different ways through the years. At the turn of the 20th Century, the proceeds from Allmänningen were used to finance the council’s operative costs such as clergy salaries and construction of the court house, jail, doctor residence and pharmacy. Following the creation of an administrative board in 1922, the majority of the profits were returned to the owners in the form of grants for agriculture and electricity infrastructure projects etc.
The territory of Allmänningen now accounts for approximately 78 000 hectares of land, of which 61 120 hectares is productive forest. Each year around 6 MSek is paid out to shareholders and local projects that are of benefit to shareholders and residents of Jokkmokk. More information in Swedish about how the funds are distributed can be read on this link.
The Allmänning meetings are held twice a year. The Spring meeting is normally held at the end of May, and the Autumn meeting is always on the second last Saturday of November.