Institutional options for managing rangelands (2004)

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Garret Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” theory uses the example of rangelands to argue that when many people have access rights to the same resource, there is a potential for each individual to overuse and underinvest in the resource.  This theory has prompted a debate over the effectiveness of common property resource management, especially for rangelands.

In reality, rangelands have been subject not just to the open access situation described by Hardin, but to a wide range of tenure arrangements, with different structures for regulating access to, use of, and management of rangelands. These include many customary and tribal institutional arrangements that have functioned for long periods.  Each of these property rights regimes and institutional options is associated with different costs for achieving various goals, such as poverty reduction, equitable access to resources and sustainable use and management of those resources. This brief considers the benefits and costs of alternative tenure and institutional arrangements and the impact of existing legal and policy frameworks on the sustainability and equity of pastoral production systems under three categories of landownership:
  1. state ownership;
  2. individual ownership; and
  3. common property.
Year: 2004
Language: English