Sunday, November 27, 2011
Tragedy of the Commons: Fisheries, Rangeland and Forest Management
In his essay entitled, "Tragedy of the Commons," ecologist Garrett Hardin proposed that any common resource to be shared by the public free of charge would eventually be exploited and degraded. Hardin uses an example from northern Africa to illustrate his point as it applies to rangeland. Here, satellite photos revealed an area of privately-owned rangeland that was managed sustainably by the rotation of pastures for grazing. Because the owner had a vested interest in maintaining the quality of the rangeland, he managed it with the future in mind. However, the public land that lay adjacent to his property had been overgrazed past its carrying capacity. The soil was compacted and invading plants unfit for grazing had taken over. As a consequence, large numbers of grazing animals died off, followed by many humans who depended on them for sustenance (Hardin, 1968).