It has generally been presumed that local populations, if they act in their self-interest, seldom conserve or protect natural resources without external intervention or privatization. Using the example of forest management by villagers in the Indian Himalayas, this paper argues that rural populations can often use resources sustainably and successfully, even under assumptions of self-interested rationality. Under a set of specified social and environmental conditions relating to Uttarakhand (these conditions prevail in large areas of the Himalayas and may also exist in other mountain regions), it is shown that community institutions are more efficient in managing resources than either private individuals or the central government and are more cost effective with regard to the costs of using forests, monitoring costs and enforcement costs. In advancing this argument, the paper undermines the often dogmatic belief in the universal superiority of private forms of ownership and management.
|Publication Title||Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics|
|Author Address||Department of Political Science, Tropical Conservation and Development Program, University of Florida, 3324 Turlington Hall, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.|
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