Common lands are known for the management problems they experience as well for their unique contributions to local communities cultural heritage. Forest knowledge and management of the commons represents a relevant component of this heritage that is being progressively lost when critical management problems are not solved. Sustainable development actions that, through participatory processes, involve the community in strategy design and implementation, offer a great opportunity to preserve commons cultural heritage and take best advantage of available knowledge. ForEnCarb is a pilot project financed by the Sustainable Development Service of Sardinia's regional administration, with scientific support of Sassari University. The project goal is to promote sustainable development of Seneghe, a local community of inner Sardinia, by effectively implementing provisions of the international agreements to combat climate change through forest planning programs.Most of Seneghe's forest area is in common land. For countless generations its residents have been entitled to collect wood, to hunt and to graze their cattle and sheep on these lands. In support of a process towards sustainable forest management, our study focused on the social and cultural heritage of the local community and the historical development of its territorial identity, with specific reference to forest-related knowledge. The paper presents the first results of an analysis of forest service archive documents and town council deliberations found in municipal and state archives. The sources used include the documentation from the 19th and 20th centuries, but enlighten only fragments of history since a large number of potentially useful documents have been lost or destroyed. Results include a time series analysis of allowances for cattle access, wood withdrawal and occurrence of forest fires. We conclude that woodlands subject to common rights carry a high symbolic value for this community, but social sensitivity concerning forest management practices, while necessary, is not sufficient to encourage sustainable practices. Integration in sustainable development processes, such as this climate change mitigation project, offers hope to reverse such a cultural decline. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.