In his latest book, Collapse: How Societies Succeed or Fail, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond attempts to explain how a number of small, isolated societies, from Easter Island to Greenland, destroyed their environments and disappeared
Land trusts and one of their important tools, conservation easements, are major forces in today's environmental movement. Conservation easements are partial interests in land that prohibit intense development.
Writers on the RangeMarch 29, 2005 By Jon Christensen and Terry Anderson
Headwaters NewsJanuary 5, 2005 By Randy T. Simmons
Case Western Reserve Law Review Fall 2004 Vol. 55:1By Terry L. Anderson
Dominic Parker, Walter Thurman
North Carolina State Economist July/August 2004
What is the best way to preserve species-rich tropical habitats? During the past two decades, international conservation groups have attempted to save habitats by combining conservation with development.
Natural Resources JournalPrivate Land ConservationArticles and Comments Compiled by the Property and Environment Research Center
"The nation finds itself struggling with forest management systems that do not work," says Roger Sedjo, a Senior Fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based research organization Resources for the Future. "The future management of the national forests is unlikely to be smooth, because no political consensus exists."
Roger Meiners, Andrew Morriss
Two PERC researchers, reviewing the history of the banned pesticide DDT, have concluded that violation of private property rights lies at the heart of the conflict over DDT.
Modest reforms, especially in Interior Department and Forest Service policies, could bring about major advances in achieving environmental goals.
Terry Anderson, J. Bishop Grewell
Bringing environmental issues into foreign policy-making and international law endangers trade, national sovereignty, and, ironically, long-term environmental improvement, according to two associates of the Political Economy Research Center (PERC).
Eco-Industrial Parks:The Case for Private PlanningRS-00-1: 2000by Pierre Desrochers
It's time to let federal agencies buy and sell land, says Tim Fitzgerald in a new PERC Policy Series paper. "Federal Land Exchanges: Let's End the Barter" offers a practical way to reform the costly and time-wasting federal land exchange process.
Michael `t Sas-Rolfes
The tiger, which once ranged throughout Asia, faces extinction in the wild. The only way to save it is to provide incentives that make people who live near tigers want to conserve them, says Michael 't Sas-Rolfes in a new paper, "Who Will Save the Wild Tiger?" published by PERC.
Donald Leal, Holly Fretwell
Our national parks are in trouble. Their roads, historic buildings, visitor facilities, and water and sewer systems are falling apart.
Over the past three decades, the environmental movement has promoted a view of American Indians as the "original conservationists"—that is, "people so intimately bound to the land that they have left no mark upon it."
Washington Times April 18, 2008 By Laura E. Huggins
Terry Anderson, Laura Huggins
Edited by Terry L. Anderson, Laura E. Huggins, and Thomas Michael Power
Terry Anderson, Laura Huggins
By Terry L. Anderson and Laura E. Huggins Special to the Hoover Digest
In most cases, recycling is a profligate use of natural and human resources.
Given property rights to the wild animals that often damage their crops or even kill them, Namibian farmers now are profiting from tourism and hunting, while poaching has virtually disappeared.
PERC Enviropreneur Institute alum Brett Howell is developing a market for coral reef restoration off Floridaâ€™s coast. If the reefs rebound and new coral grows, they will not only improve the habitat for marine animals but also improve business prospects for dive shops, fishing boats, and ocean side hotels and restaurants.
PERC Director of Outreach Laura Huggins explores how free market environmentalism is working to save 40 million acres of Patagonia grasslands.
PERC Enviropreneur Institute (PEI) Alum Jeremy Gingerich talks about the importance of open landscapes and how the skills from PEI will help him achieve his goals.
As part of PERC's Free Market Environmentalism Workshop, "Financial Contracting, Transaction Costs, and Environmental Amenities," Dr. Jonathan Karpoff offers the keynote address highlighting Ronald Coase and environmental finance.
As part of PERC's Free Market Environmentalism Workshop, "Financial Contracting, Transaction Costs, and Environmental Amenities," Dr. Jonathan Karpoff offers the keynote address highlighting Ronald Coase and environmental finance. Chapter 2 offers an overview of the patron saints.
As part of PERC's Free Market Environmentalism Workshop, "Financial Contracting, Transaction Costs, and Environmental Amenities," Dr. Jonathan Karpoff offers the keynote address highlighting Ronald Coase and environmental finance. Section 3 highlights Ronald Coase's contributions.
Using the LWCF to acquire land—without first addressing the billions of dollars in deferred maintenance on the existing federal land—will threaten the ecological health, public accessibility and economic productivity of these precious lands.
The backlog of road repairs, waste water treatment, facility upgrades, and other critical infrastructure projects negatively affects visitor experiences as well as the natural and cultural resources on federal lands.
Holly Fretwell, Shawn Regan
Nearly half of the West is owned by the federal government. In this new report, PERC researchers find that the federal government loses money managing valuable natural resources on federal lands, while states generate financial returns.
National park visitation is up — but so is population and the total number of parks. Putting the latest data into perspective.
Rancher and enviropreneur Jeff Lazslo forged partnerships with public and private funders to restore a huge wetland that now flourishes with fish, wildlife, and plants.
Allowing price to ration water may be a bitter political pill to swallow, but it makes economic and environmental sense. Writing at The Conversation, Randy Simmons lends insight into California's water crisis.
Michael `t Sas-Rolfes
In South Africa's Wildlife Ranching magazine, Michael `t Sas-Rolfes explores the history of wildlife breeding as a species conservation tool, challenging traditional views of conservation in the Anthropocene era.
In this issue of Capital Ideas -- Live!, Hayes Brown interviews Terry Anderson about free market environmentalism, how conservation benefits can flow from private land stewardship, and more.
The boom in gun sales has created a revenue gusher for wildlife restoration.
Cliven Bundy's battle was born out of a broken system that encourages conflict, not negotiation.
PERC adjunct fellow Brian Yablonski has been reappointed to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, marking the beginning of his third five-year term.
When environmental groups buy ranchers' permits, there's no need for the feds to start rustling up trouble.
Jonathan Adler, Nathaniel Stewart
Ending the tragedy of the oceans: How property rights can save the world's fisheries.
Reed Watson, Peter Hill, Shawn Regan, Laura Huggins
Listen as Aaron Flint of "Voices of Montana" talks with Reed Watson, P.J. Hill, Shawn Regan, and Laura Huggins about free market environmentalism.
In an interview on the John Batchelor Show, Terry Anderson explains how hunting in Namibia provides local communities with the right incentives to manage and conserve wildlife.
On the January 15 show, PERC's Shawn Regan discussed the political origins of the incandescent light bulb ban with Detroit's personality and radio show host Frank Beckmann.
Laura Huggins explains how thinking outside the box and innovating can work for the environment as it does for business. Sometimes big change starts with thinking big and perhaps a little outside the box. Take it from enviropreneur Hank Fischer.
Reed Watson, Greg Sauer
What does “nickel pig iron” have to do with free market environmentalism? It provides an excellent example of how markets and, in particular, rising commodity prices spur innovation and resource conservation.
Michael `t Sas-Rolfes
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is about to destroy 6 tons of confiscated ivory. But does the destruction of ivory stockpiles really help the cause?
The Endangered Species Act is expensive and ineffective in its reactive approach to conservation. Laura Huggins explores an alternative system of incentives for environmental stewardship prior to regulatory listing.
In this innovative book, Laura E. Huggins finds path breaking entrepreneurial solutions to difficult environmental challenges in some of the world’s poorest areas.
There is fairly broad opposition to centralized environmental regulation within the Republican Party today. Conservative activists in particular focus their ire on the Environmental Protection Agency and federal efforts to maintain or enhance environmental quality.
Park agencies are partnering with private companies to keep parks open, well maintained, and generate a return for taxpayers.
PERC research fellow Shawn Regan provides testimony for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on "Funding the National Park System for the Next Century."
It’s a conservation debate that’s as fiery as it gets: Will a legal rhino horn trade save rhinos? Michael 't Sas-Rolfes believes a well-regulated trade is the right answer, and here's why.
Major environmental policy reform is long overdue. PERC's Jonathan Adler outlines the foundation of a conservative alternative to the conventional environmental paradigm.
Spots versus stripes? Which do you prefer? Our federal government prefers spots and is moving forward with a million-dollar-a-year plan to remove 9,000 striped owls from western forests.
Laura Huggins sat down recently with fly fishermen Miles Noles to discuss the upcoming Montana Supreme Court case on stream access. Huggins discusses PERC's position on stream access and her experience fishing Montana's rivers and streams.
Private ownership is the key to good resource stewardship. As Terry Anderson explains, stream access laws undermine property rights and reduce landowners' incentives to provide habitat for fish and wildlife.
Reed Watson, Brett Howell
In response to the Miami Herald article "
In June of 2012, the world mourned the loss of the giant tortoise, Lonesome George. The 100-year-old tortoise lived in the Galapagos and was believed to be the last of his sub-species. George served as an ambassador for endangered species—especially in Ecuador where many groups are working to restore not only tortoise populations throughout the archipelago but also to improve the status of other rare species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the African lion as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. But will it actually help the king of beasts?
PERC's workshop, "Tackling the Global Fisheries Challenge," took place last week. Fisheries specialist for the World Bank, Michael Arbuckle, discusses rights-based fisheries reform in developing countries.
Widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement when published 50 years ago, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had a profound impact on our society. As an iconic work, the book has often been shielded from critical inquiry, but this landmark anniversary provides an excellent opportunity to reassess its legacy and influence.
This video showcases PERC Enviropreneur Institute alum Fletcher Harper, his organization GreenFaith, and the innovative ways in which religion, ecology, and economics can be combined to forge creative environmental solutions.
Laura Huggins, Shawn Regan
The science writer who is "turning the conservation movement upside down" calls for an end to notions of pristine nature.
Roger Meiners, Pierre Desrochers, Andrew Morriss
Widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement when published 50 years ago, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had a profound impact on our society. As an iconic work, the book has often been shielded from critical inquiry, but this landmark anniversary provides an excellent opportunity to reassess its legacy and influence. In Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson a team of national experts explores the book’s historical context, the science it was built on, and the policy consequences of its core ideas. The conclusion makes it abundantly clear that the legacy of Silent Spring is highly problematic. While the book provided some clear benefits, a number of Carson’s major arguments rested on what can only be described as deliberate ignorance. Despite her reputation as a careful writer widely praised for building her arguments on science and facts, Carson’s best-seller contained significant errors and sins of omission. Much of what was presented as certainty then was slanted, and today we know much of it is simply wrong.
Emily Wood, Annie Beckhelling
By the employment of dogs, farmers and conservationists are reducing both livestock lost to predation and cheetahs lost to predator control.
As part of PERC's Free Market Environmentalism Workshop, "Financial Contracting, Transaction Costs, and Environmental Amenities,"Jonathan Klick of the University of Pennsylvania Law School offers a summary of the conference and closing remarks on the future of environmental finance.
Michael `t Sas-Rolfes
In 1900, the southern white rhinoceros was the most endangered of the five rhinoceros species. Less than 20 rhinos remained in a single reserve in South Africa. By 2010, white rhino numbers had climbed to more than 20,000, making it the most common rhino species on the planet.
John Batchelor interviews Enviropreneur Intitute fellow, Dieter Erdmann, about how Colorado Open Lands is driving cooperation with private landowners to preserve open lands with conservation easements.
World Oceans Day is meant to bring communities from around the globe together to celebrate the vast environmental, economic and social wealth of our oceans.
A curious model for conservation is taking the stage. It is grounded in protecting landscapes and species but adds humans to the mix. Though not a new idea, it is often dismissed, even discouraged, by environmental thinkers.
Roger Meiners, Andrew Morriss
In this PERC Policy Series, Roger E. Meiners and Andrew P. Morriss argue that Rachel Carson's red flag was raised too high.
A lot has been written about PERC’s Enviropreneur Institute lately – and for good reason.
Enviropreneurship and land conservation.
For more of PERC's ongoing Q&A series visit perclatorblog.org
In 2006, Ilya Somin and I co-authored “The Green Costs of Kelo: Economic Development Takings and Environmental Protection,” in which we argued that allowing the use of eminent domain for econ
The long-held contention that rural forest communities are the prime culprits in tropical forest destruction is increasingly being discredited, as evidence mounts that the best way to protect rainforests is to involve local residents in sustainable management.
Publishers Weekly recommends The Locavore's Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000 Mile Diet, co-authored by former PERC fellows Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu, as a book to watch for in 2012.
In this two minute video the Insitute for Justice points out the injustice of the Government making entrepreneurs "do useless things for no reason?"
Nearly 70 bison will soon find their way from Yellowstone National Park to a couple of Montana
Once the holidays are over and the glitter and glam is stripped from the fir, chances are the Christmas tree ends up in the trash. Perhaps the trees could be useful even after they lose their glow. Why not turn them into woody biomass for energy?
The Clinton administration signed off on the Roadless Rule [PDF] in 2001 to preserve 58.5 million acres of national forest land by preventing road construction, reconstruction,
Last year's massive winter bison migration from Yellowstone National Park caused significant damage to s
Last Thursday, at a congressional hearing, Assistant U.S.
Amid the state's budget crisis last spring, California's governor threatened to close more than 70 state parks by the spring of 2012 to save the state money. This threat of park closure is a common occurrence in California and other states.
by Paul SchwennesenPrometheus, mankind’s great advocate and insubordinate pilferer of flame, must be perplexed by the goings-on in fire-riven Arizona. The towering columns of smoke have gone, but the forest conflagration has left behind half a million charred acres and more than a few smoldering resentments. Primary among these resentments is a question over management of public forest resources: who should decide how we avoid or at least mitigate such a calamity in the future? It is of course ironic; Marx claimed Prometheus as the figurehead of the communal mystique, and no asset is more communally owned than America’s western forests. Not surprisingly, these forests are a prime example of the tragic consequences of collective ownership and central management.In addition to our famed cactus down south, Arizona harbors around seven billion cubic feet of live timber and the world’s largest stand of ponderosa pine. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest lies on 2.63 million acres of this stand. Each year, solar energy and carbon are converted into nearly twenty-four million cubic feet of timber on national forest land. This resource is impressive and aesthetic, drawing sun-scorched tourists by the busload.It also draws “managers” by the score. Aldo Leopold embarked on his first Forest Service assignment here in 1909, just a few miles from Bear Wallow. Ever since, the forest has been managed in the public domain by well-educated and better-intentioned technocrats charged with maximizing the public good. Under a complicated rubric of “multi-use,” the Forest Service attempts to harvest the sustainable yield of the resource (it is, after all, under the Department of Agriculture). Timber, livestock grazing, and hunting permits are just a few of the “extractive” uses they are charged with upholding. Habitat protection, endangered species management, and increasing recreational demands are a large and growing slice of the resource allocation pie.The extraordinarily difficult job of balancing these competing demands is precisely the sort of thing that bureaucracies are bad at handling. As Malcolm Gladwell notes, these kinds of complex problems are not puzzles (which more information and better education can help solve), but mysteries (in which more information and better education tends to confuse). In the late-1980s, for instance, timber harvesting off national forest land came to a nearly complete halt as a result of court injunctions precipitated in the Pacific Northwest. Litigation by environmentally conscious lobbying groups, specifically over concerns of habitat destruction for endangered species, made large-scale timber harvest a thing of the past. Grazing permits likewise encountered a dramatic decline for similar reasons. Combined with an aggressive thirty-year campaign of actively putting out all fires (is there any more iconic mascot than Smoky the Bear?), these actions led predictably to a dramatic increase in forest-density and ground cover.Forest density and ground cover is called “habitat” by the green contingent, “fuel-load” by their brown compatriots. And, of course, there is an element of truth in each view, often masking personal preferences and economic agendas. But the point is this: the kind of see-sawing policy shifts which encouraged dramatic, perhaps unsustainable, increases in extractive uses in the early 1980s was followed by dramatic, perhaps unconscionable, reductions in these uses a decade later. These market-insulated policy shifts were not based on good information (which markets are extraordinarily good at projecting), but on politics and the relative power of lobbying those in control. The short-term increases in forest habitat resulting from reduced extraction charged the pan for the tremendous blazes we have encountered in the past decade.This past May, one of the sun-scorched tourists started a blaze that subsequently burned more acreage than any other single event in state history. Two and a half billion board feet of timber are estimated to have gone up in a whiff of carbon and particulate pollution this summer. Five hundred nineteen thousand, three hundred and nineteen acres of prime habitat, prime camping, prime hunting, and prime timber disappeared in an ecological blink of an eye. Before us lie the smoking remnants of command-and-control planning gone predictably awry.“Well,” you say, “forests burn periodically, it’s a natural and proper consequence of growth.” If only it were that simple. Fire is indeed a natural ecological force, particularly in the brittle ecosystems of the semi-arid west. But size matters. Half-million acre infernos are almost certainly not typical of the “natural” order of things.
Starting in January, the common incandescent light bulb becomes illegal, well maybe, in most of the United States. (Some recalcitrant states, SC and TX to name two, seem hell bent on reminding the federal government of the long forgotten 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but wasn’t that fight settled a long time ago?) Advocates of this law say that it encourages the use of more energy efficient lighting sources such as CFL and LED lights. It has been noted that a large fraction of the energy consumed by an incandescent light bulb goes to create heat and not light, and that the newer, high tech devices produce an equal amount of light using less energy.However, those of us who aren’t lucky enough to live in AZ, south FL, or San Diego, demand a LOT of heat many months of the year. In Montana, I use natural gas to heat my home about 7-8 months of the year. In South Carolina, I heat my home about 5-6 months of the year using wood and electricity, not every day, but most of them from November to April.The energy that creates heat, not light, in a regular incandescent bulb is NOT wasted during those months. It is a nearly perfect substitute for the alternative heat in my home. The same electricity that heats the filament in my incandescent bulb in my living room in my South Carolina home in winter will be used by my heat pump to reproduce the heat lost when I convert to CFL or LED lights when my woodstove runs low. There is NO energy savings of any important degree. (It bears noting that my heat pump is a more efficient producer of energy than my incandescent bulbs, but that is not my main point as is explored more below.)Of course in the spring, fall, and summer, the CFL bulbs will not be producing heat that I don’t want, but that isn’t my point here. I am only making the observation that you are foolish to think that you will get the savings printed on the carton of CFL light bulbs if you ever use gas, electricity, or any other energy source to heat your house. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with cooler CFL or LED lighting means that other heat sources have to work harder in your home when it is cold outside. Of this there can hardly be any doubt.To be sure, heat pumps and natural gas may be more efficient heaters than incandescent bulbs, no argument here. I am only making the point that for homes in cool or cold climates, the promised energy savings simply cannot emerge.It makes a lot more sense to use CFL or LED lighting outside where the incandescent light bulb heat is wasted, or during summer or non-heating months, and I use them myself in this application. I have made a little Excel spreadsheet calculator [XLS] that properly calculates the real energy savings you will get from switching to CFL or LED lights from incandescent which is based on the number of days that you think you heat your home. Those of you who are interested to see just how dishonest the current forecasts are are welcome to use this simple tool.
Brett Howell is a recent graduate of PERC's 2011 Enviropreneur Institute. The following originally appeared on Gaia Endeavors.
It is officially summer and that means PERC is welcoming dozens of visiting fellows ranging from scholars and students to journalists and entrepreneurs. Last week we welcomed Richard Rice, the co-founder and president of the Save Your World Foundation—a nonprofit whose mission is to protect globally significant areas through incentive-based conservation agreements.Richard has more than 25 years of experience in natural resource and public policy analysis, most recently at Conservation International where he served as chief economist. While at CI, he conducted extensive research on the costs and effectiveness of different approaches to biodiversity conservation in the tropics and supervised projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He has published widely on the viability of sustainable forest management and has worked on the development and implementation of a unique approach to conservation.Richard is a 2011 Lone Mountain Fellow at PERC. We thank him for participating in our new Q&A series for The Percolator.Q: In 2010, you founded the Save Your World Foundation with Scott Cecil. What is Save Your World and how does it work?A: We are the only non-profit devoted exclusively to supporting conservation agreements in developing countries. We serve as a kind of “mother ship” for our projects, providing technical assistance as needed and connecting them to funding sources here in the U.S.One of the things we focus on is hosting project-level endowments. Endowments are a common approach to conservation funding here in the U.S. but are beyond the reach of many projects abroad. They can be an extremely useful tool for project finance. Our projects, for example, have very well-defined recurrent annual costs and matching those costs to an inevitably uneven flow of funding is much easier to accomplish with an endowment.Q: Save Your World advocates a unique approach to conservation—one that uses incentive-based agreements. How do these agreements work?A: Conservation agreements are just that, agreements negotiated with resource owners that define a concrete conservation outcome—usually the protection of a particular habitat or species—in exchange for benefits designed to give resource owners an ongoing incentive to conserve. The type of benefits provided vary but can include technical assistance, support for social services, employment in resource protection, or direct cash payments.How a particular agreement is structured, of course, depends on the setting. One of our projects compensates Maasai herdsman for livestock lost to predators in exchange for their commitment to not kill lions. In effect, it’s an insurance program for the Maasai and it has been tremendously successful in protecting lions. It now covers more than 1 million acres of communal grazing lands.Another agreement provides support for traditional landowners in the Solomon Islands, protecting the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific. In that case, our benefits include employment as rangers and a scholarship program for school children.Q: What role do property rights play in these incentive-based agreements?A: The property rights involved are absolutely key. It’s really no different abroad than it is here in the U.S. in that respect. It’s all about devising the proper incentives to make conservation happen. The novelty is that until recently these kinds of agreements were not considered possible in developing countries. But in fact, they have proven to be very well suited to that context.It is a bit of a paradigm shift, though, since past efforts have typically sought to benefit resource owners indirectly through markets for so-called “green” products.With conservation agreements you’re paying for conservation directly rather than as a by-product of something else—say some activity that uses the resource you’re trying to protect but in a less damaging way. The problem is that markets for the kind of products that do that are pretty small, and pretty uncertain. And at the end of the day, they’re not really necessary.It is much better to devise agreements to give people things they need in exchange for exactly what you want in return, which in this case is straight-ahead conservation. That way conservation becomes the thing that stimulates local economies by competing with destructive development.All of this, of course, requires that you think about conservation as something that you pay for, just like everything else. That's important because people in developing countries support conservation for the same reasons we do, but as a practical matter they can’t afford to forgo development anymore than we can. They are happy, though, to accept compensation in exchange for conservation.Q: Prior to establishing Save Your World, you worked for more than 20 years as the chief economist at Conservation International. What did your time at CI teach you about conservation and how have you applied to your new position?A: Well, one thing I learned is that one person can make a big difference. That goes equally for people negotiating these kinds of agreements, as well as those helping to fund them. One medium-sized foundation or high net-worth individual, for example, could easily “own” saving the African lion in a large part of its remaining range.These are very affordable agreements and they can be put in place quite rapidly. Someone once called this “warp-speed conservation.” Put another way, the problem is not nearly as daunting as many believe. It is certainly a lot easier to fix than I once thought. That is a very hopeful and important lesson.
Editor's Note: Summers are an exciting time at PERC as we welcome dozens of visiting scholars to our summer fellowships programs. Throughout the summer, The PERColator will be bringing you a new Q&A series with many of our outstanding visiting fellows. Michael 't Sas-RolfesMichael ‘t Sas-Rolfes is an environmental economist with a focus on the role of markets for biodiversity conservation. He has been actively involved in various private conservation initiatives for 25 years, starting as a financial manager of a private game reserve in South Africa and later conducting research on the role of private markets for wildlife conservation in Africa.Michael worked with Francis Vorhies to set up Eco Plus, an innovative consultancy on business, economics, and the environment. His consulting experience includes work on trans-frontier conservation areas, wildlife trade policy, and institutional reform in protected area management. He has written extensively on various conservation issues, especially relating to trade in endangered species.Michael is a 2011 PERC Lone Mountain Fellow researching international wildlife trade policy. Thanks to Michael for taking time to answer our questions.Q: In 1998, you authored a PERC Policy Series called “Who Will Save the Wild Tiger?” What has changed in the world of tigers since you wrote the paper?A: A lot has been done. There have been many conservation initiatives, much money spent, and many, many meetings. A wide range of conservation NGOs and even the World Bank established initiatives, culminating in last year’s grand “Tiger Summit” in St. Petersburg in Russia. Unfortunately, however, wild tiger numbers have continued to decline. When I wrote the PERC Policy Series paper, the most recent estimate of wild tiger numbers was between 4,800 and 7,300. Last year the official World Wildlife Fund estimate was 3,200. So in another sense, not much has changed at all – the wild tiger remains in trouble.Interestingly, during this time the Chinese government also announced plans to investigate the feasibility of using farmed tigers to provide a legal supply of tiger bone medicines to their domestic market, citing my PERC Policy Series as a partial justification for this. Conservation NGOs (and the World Bank) reacted in a very hostile way to these proposals and the Chinese have not pursued them any further.Q: In your paper you wrote, “Tiger conservation is, ultimately, an issue of incentives.” What are the incentives and who faces them?A: Conservation NGOs benefit from the tiger’s charismatic high profile as a means to raise funds, and conservation scientists like to study tigers, so one could argue that they have an incentive to prevent them from becoming extinct. By contrast, rural people living near tigers have to deal with threats to their livestock and children, and human-tiger conflict is a serious problem over most of the wild tiger’s range. Rural people have less of an incentive to conserve tigers, especially when offered large sums of money for tiger carcasses.I believe that the main challenge for tiger conservation is that people living next to wild tigers are the ones who actually control their destiny, and right now those people typically don’t benefit much from the presence of wild tigers. The people who do benefit are mostly far away and don’t have much real control over what happens to tigers. There is a mismatch between who pays the costs and who gets to benefit from tiger conservation.Q: How can tigers become assets instead of liabilities?A: For something to be an asset, it has to be owned by someone. Right now most wild tigers are typically ‘owned’ by governments, but that is a weak and dispersed form of ownership, which does not benefit or incentivize specific people who control the wild tiger’s destiny. Those people are typically rural subsistence farmers and poorly paid government employees. By creating stronger property rights – i.e. more direct ownership of tigers – one could create ways for more specific groups, communities or agencies to control and benefit directly from tigers. Ways to benefit could include genuine “adopt-a-tiger” schemes, contractual agreements with local people, tourist viewing, and possibly trophy hunting (although this is currently banned). This would give tigers much greater asset value.Q: Should conservationists look toward tiger farming as a viable solution to the decline in wild tiger populations? A: Tiger farming is one of a range of options to consider. It has the potential to satisfy some of the persisting demand for products such as tiger bone, thereby competing with the black market, which currently provides the only channel of supply. It is not a panacea, but it is also not the threat that some conservation groups claim it to be. The Chinese captive tiger population already exceeds the world’s wild tiger population, and conservation groups worry that some products are ‘leaking’ illegally into the marketplace. However, if market demand for these products persists, it would be a bad idea to try to stop this leakage, because it will simply drive up the value of poached tiger products and stimulate poaching even further.Q: You have also done similar work on protecting wild rhino populations in Africa. You recently launched a website called Rhino Economics. What is the purpose of the website?A: Rhino Economics provides an information source to a wide audience on all of the economic issues relating to rhino conservation, especially the rhino horn trade. The public tends to be poorly informed on this issue. Most people still think that rhino horn is used as an aphrodisiac and that the rhino horn trade ban is a good idea. My research over the past 22 years shows that the smartest way to protect rhinos is to create strong property rights and market incentives, and the example of the southern white rhino success story provides concrete proof. My research also suggests that the greatest threat to rhinos today is in fact the ban on rhino horn trade. The ban is causing an artificial supply shortage that is driving the price up to outrageous levels and thereby attracting highly-sophisticated organized crime syndicates into the trade.The website aims to provide information at three different levels: 1) a quick overview of the issues for the general public, 2) a more detailed explanation of the issues for those who are more interested or involved in rhino conservation and 3) a comprehensive listing of past academic and policy work I have done for students and practitioners of wildlife policy.
Terry Anderson, Shawn Regan
When people who live near wild elephants understand how they can benefit economically, they have an incentive to protect the wildlife.
What effect do U.S. federal land programs have on private conservation?
Dominic Parker, Shawn Regan, Walter Thurman
PERC scholars compare the Conservation and Wetland Reserves, both federal programs, with two private land trusts,The Nature Conservancy and the Land Trust Alliance,to determine their influence on each other.
The conventional view is that the premium paid for fair trade coffee results in higher wages and better living standards for coffee farmers in the developing world.
In Namibia the people own the wildlife. Their system of community-based conservation has providedincome to local people and sharply increased key wildlife populations.
Green activism is often a threat to the very environment that activists are trying to save.
Last week I joined Andy Nash on InsideAcademia.tv for a short discussion on "Sust
Cross-posted at Grist.A recent post on Grist attempted to dismantle the intellectual foundations of free market environmentalism—the application of markets and property rights to solve environmental problems. But far from toppling a burgeoning movement within modern environmentalism, it succeeded only in misrepresenting the subject.To recap: Clark Williams-Derry claimed that while free market environmentalism may be effective in some areas of the environment (e.g., fisheries management), its reliance upon unrealistic assumptions about the real world largely relegates it to useless intellectual theorizing. In particular, the Coase theorem—an important component of market-based environmentalism named for Nobel Prize-winning economist Ronald Coase—amounts to “a quirky but not particularly relevant bit of theoretical math.”While there is certainly much more to free market environmentalism than the work of Coase (see Terry Anderson and Donald Leal’s book Free Market Environmentalism for more details), I focus here mostly on the misinformed critique of Coase that has been used to discredit free market environmentalism.So, who is Coase, what is his theorem, and what does it have to do with free market environmentalism?
Just hours before Tim DeChristopher made false bids in a BLM oil and gas lease auction, he too
As hundreds of bison make their annual winter migration out of Yellowstone National Park, most are hazed back into the park. Others are captured, quarantined, and occasionally slaughtered.This year, more than 500 bison are being held by state and federal officials. If the bison test positive for brucellosis, a disease that can spread to livestock, they risk being killed.However, new federal brucellosis regulations have the potential to change the hostile attitudes towards bison by state agencies and ranchers, who have long fought to keep bison inside Yellowstone and away from livestock rangelands. The new rules, released in December and open for public comment, may also lower the costs of bargaining between bison advocates, who want an expansion of bison wintering habitat, and nearby livestock owners.First, some background information. Bison once numbered in the tens of millions across North America. By the time Yellowstone was created in 1872, there were less than two dozen wild bison remaining. Aggressive park management resulted in rapid bison population growth throughout the first half of the twentieth century. So much growth occurred that culling the herd became necessary to maintain the population within the estimated carrying capacity of the park.Opposition to the culling, however, brought changes to the park’s bison management policy. In 1968, an ecological management approach was introduced, leaving wildlife populations to self-regulate according to ecological conditions.But Yellowstone is not a self-contained ecosystem for bison. As bison numbers increased, their required acreage increases as well—meaning that bison began to roam beyond the park’s borders. Without population control, Yellowstone’s bison numbers grew even more rapidly than before, from 556 in 1968 to as many as 5,015 in 2005. Today, bison numbers remain high. The most recent survey counted 3,900. More bison means more land-use conflict as animals routinely cross the northern border into Montana in search of wintering habitat. There, the bison compete with livestock for forage and risk causing the state to lose its brucellosis-free status.
by Holly Fretwell
by Paul Schwennesen
In the fall edition of PERC Reports out this week, James Salzman, professor of law and environmental policy at Duke University, provides an overview of ecosyst
Brandon Scarborough, Reed Watson
The Habitat Farming Enterprise Program may be able to restore three endangered and threatened fish species to the Columbia River where millions of dollars from government agencies and conservation groups have failed.
Brandon Scarborough, Reed Watson
In drought plagued southwestern Georgia, conservation groups paid farmers to save water for streams by employing more efficient irrigation and wireless technology to measure soil moisture.
Brandon Scarborough, Reed Watson
Using a market based approach, urban areas in Colorado can buy water consumption rights from ranchers. This water banking approach is a cost-effective means to water conservation.
by Brandon Scarborough
Most claims of environmental good from recycling are myths. Recycling often uses more resources than it saves.
This special issue of PERC Reports is dedicated to PERC’s Lone Mountain Fellows. In our cover story, Michael 't Sas-Rolfes explores the war on wildlife trade and offers insights from his recent research at PERC.
In Bolivia, bees and barbed wire served as compensation for landowners who protect native vegetation in a water-producing cloud forest.
Quail hunting by wealthy landowners has had remarkable environmental benefits in northern Florida.
By Andrew Morriss The first chapter of the Cayman Turtle Farm story did not end happily. But a new phase in this fabled effort to protect wild sea turtles has begun.
Last year, I began investigating forestry outside the United States, seeking innovations. I found strikingly different approaches just north of the border, in Canada.
G. Tracy Mehan III
Somehow I had missed the fact that Chuck Leavell was keyboardist for the Allman Brothers Band and, since 1982, for the Rolling Stones. Nor did I know that he is a forester.
Bruce Selyem doesn't just photograph old grain elevators, he also saves them.
Private land trusts generally are prudent stewards, but tax advantages can sway their decisions.
Assessing humans' role in nature and the reality of wilderness
Pens from old-growth forests preserve the forest as well as its history.
How one enviropreneur is harnessing private capital for innovation in environmental ventures.
Michael `t Sas-Rolfes
Is the prohibitionist approach really helping?
The Oglala Sioux aim to reclaim their landscape and culture heritage
Enviropreneur Brett Howell is developing a market for coral reef restoration off of Florida's coast.
Eric Kihiu Ngure
How a fence and an off-road race are creating a new conservation paradigm in Kenya
Land management lessons from a rancher turned "enviropreneur"
Carlos Fernandez, Andrea Nogues
Even travelers in Patagonia forge
America is about to rediscover her national parks. To great fanfare, Ken Burns’ epic documentary, "The National Parks: America’s Best Idea," premieres on PBS this fall.
Colorado has created a grand experiment using private markets to preserve open space through a transferable state income tax credit.
That there are moose in Yellowstone today tells us something about nature and our role in it.
Environmental entrepreneurs should have a business plan just as any other entrepreneur, but for my business- school students this is a revelation.
By Daniel K. Benjamin Insecure property rights induce trespassers and forest owners to cut tress on short rotations and not to replant.
Economist, n. a scoundrel whose faulty vision sees things as they really are, not as they ought to be. —after Ambrose Bierce
While rampant illegal logging takes place around them, two indigenous communities in Nicaragua have banned together to harvest wood in a sustainable manner and to act as a buï¬€er for Nicaragua’s largest protected area.
In the heart of Cambodia is the most important waterbird zone in mainland Southeast Asia. At Prek Toal, just-hatched chicks peep in deafening high tones, while larger birds take oï¬€ , land, and perform mid-air acrobatics.
When the elevator stops on the top ï¬‚oor of some of the world’s newest downtown skyscrapers, the occupants may be in for a surprise. Before them may be a ï¬eld of waving native grasses and a stunning display of wildï¬‚owers.
Deep in the heart of Texas one of America's leading technology firms is just putting the final touches on one of the nation's greenest buildings.
Typically in the past, rural and suburban landowners had no trouble taking care of their seasonal accumulations of brush, branches, dead leaves, and other organic debris. They piled it in the backyard and set it alight.
Private landowners who also happen to love native fish have developed dozens of backyard incubators that are capable of hatching hundreds of thousands of eggs.
Green building has come in for some hard knocks in recent years as some high-profile projects have proved to be both inefficient and costly.
The South Texas Wildlife Shootout is helping preserve wildlife habitat on private land and educating the public about the unique wildlife in the region.
South Africa is known worldwide for its spectacular national parks, but what is less widely known is the number of private game reserves that have abandoned cattle and crops to concentrate on conserving wildlife (see Terry Anderson's article in this issue).
The world's largest fish has found a safe haven in the waters surrounding a tiny Caribbean island.
In California, conservation easements are saving more than astonishing landscapes; they are saving livelihoods. The California Rangeland Trust is preserving working cattle ranches.
An eco-tour outfit's success in the Seychelles and a new line of denim made from recycled materials.
Productive farm land near large urban centers is being protected as conservation easements include farming as a stipulation of the tax-reducing easements.
In 1993, more than thirteen thousand cubit feet of water per second raced down the San Pedro Valley, washing away farms, drowning livestock, and destroying bridges.
Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island was once the world’s largest dump. One day, it will be New York City’s largest park and a model for landfill reclamation around the world.
Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, most of which come from the Amazonian state of Mato Grosso. As vast tracts of jungle are clearcut to make room for soybeans, environmentalists have pleaded with farmers to save rare species and preserve ecological diversity.
Subway car disposal, professional de-junking, displaced geraniums