The monastery of Einsiedeln is not only the biggest private forest owner in the region but in the whole of Switzerland. Many of the forests it holds today already belonged to the monastery in the Middle Ages. In keeping with the notion of property rights at the time the monastery did not, however, hold all rights of usufruct. The monastery's forests were exploited by the «Waldleute» (the inhabitants of Einsiedeln), sometimes as common pasture, but sometimes individually. In the 16th and 17th centuries and against the will of Canton Schwyz (under whose protectorate it lay) the monastery redeemed the rights of usufruct to ensure its own supply of wood and in order to participate in wood trading with the town of Zurich. Various examples show that the monastery often only redeemed the rights of wood yield while the grazing rights stayed with the seller – clearly an arrangement that was in the economic interests of both parties. With the advent of the modern property rights and the introduction of a «regulated forest management» such an arrangement came to be seen as a big problem. This is why, in the 19th century, the monastery redeemed all rights of usufruct of its forests.

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