Green Pleasure Grounds. From The Tragedy of Commons to the Drama of Conservation


Academic Paper, 2010

14 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Excerpt

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Status Quo
2.1 A Glimpse on the history of Natural Resource Recreation
2.2 The Tragedy of the Commons
2.3 No Commons – No Tragedy, approaching Solutions

3. Privatization of Protected Areas
3.1 Increments
3.2. Pros and Cons
3.2.1 The Burden on the Taxpayer
3.2.2 Efficiency
3.2.3. Service provision& Commercialization
3.2.4. Environmental Education, Conservation & other scientific tasks
3.2.5 Vulnerability to market fluctuations
3.3 Protected areas in today´s socio-political context

4. Conclusion; Balancing Reasons & Calculating Risks

References

1. Introduction

Being basically open to everyone with very few limitations on visitation, it is today widely acknowledged that Nature Protected Areas depict yet another example for the Tragedy of the Commons (ToC), and are subject to the associated risks. As every finite resource that is of growing interest for the growing mankind, natural resources are under the threat of exploitation and overuse. A variety of measures have been discussed for decades in order to address this issue and to preserve our natural heritage. Under the current socio-politic settings, the most prominent but also the most controversially discussed solution strategy is the privatization of Protected Areas (PAs). To set the context we will give a glimpse on the historical development of recreational activities in PAs and explain which factors have contributed to its current popularity. The general approaches of dealing with the issue of PAs being subject to the ToC are summarized, while focus is on the current fierce debate on privatizing parks and PAs. Major assumptions commonly resorted to by contestants are discussed in their cogency and socio-political context.

We argue that there is no magic solution to such a complex subject as PA management under increasing utilization pressure and conservation needs. Circumstances are to manifold to give a general answer to what are best management practices, so that decisions have to be made on a case to case basis. However, privatization is accompanied by high hazard risks that threaten to compromise the integrity of our common natural heritage and will likely change the associated objectives for the worse.

2. Status Quo

2.1 A Glimpse on the history of Natural Resource Recreation

The total number of people visiting parks for recreational purposes has been on the rise for over a century (Eagles 2007). Post World War II economic growth and consequent prosperity gave way to a wave of vacationers swarming in national resorts. Soon thereafter, with growing transportation means prices affordable for the newly formed middle class, international travel gained importance. This development did not exclude outdoor destinations; especially where natural features turned into icons of a new national self-esteem and consequently a must for overseas visitors e.g. the Grand Canyon in Arizona, protected areas experienced a massive increase in interest (Moore 2005). This development however comes with little surprise, as many protected areas where originally designed to attract visitors aiming at stimulating regional and national economic growth (Eagles et al. 2002, Shultis 1989). Demand for outdoor recreation scaled new heights when Ecotourism made the breakthrough in the 1980s. Reasons for this development are manifold and interconnected, but where extended by a set of new motives in the past 30 years:

1) Environmental Awareness: Media confronts the average citizen with environmental challenges and issues on a daily basis. When deciding on recreational activities, consciousness or role model inflictions, but also an eleventh hour feeling (as in; let´s visit the Antarctica as long as there are icebergs), might tip the scales to natural resource based activities.
2) Affinity with nature and cultural heritage: Succinctly, visiting areas of outstanding beauty and/or cultural relevancy is commonly felt to be of spiritual and psychological value, which is increasingly desired by tourists, especially when originating from countries with a high degree of urbanization.
3) The Fashion Factor: It is not to be underestimated how people are carried along by hearsay and direct or indirect recommendations. This especially accounts for an option that is relatively new to travel brochures and aims at a broad span of target groups from the naturalist camper to the luxury lodge dweller . Natural Resource Recreation is simply en vogue.

The magnitude of this development was spelled out by the United Nations when 2002 was designated to be the year of Ecotourism, bringing it to international agenda, rising issues and promoting its growth simultaneously.

2.2 The Tragedy of the Commons

When nature-based tourism became mainstream, worried voices arouse from scientific background, NGOs and private stakeholders alike, predicting that PAs might not be able to cope with the masses they are attracting. Congruently, ever since the ground-breaking article by the biologist Garrett Hardin in 1968, National Parks and Nature Protected Areas are ranged in the category of the ToC. In a nutshell this states that as commonly held but limited resource, PAs are condemned to overuse and consequent degradation, because actions driven by self-interest of each single stakeholder will lead to an overall illogical and unsustainable usage. This will is already jeopardizing conservation efforts and might ultimately result in the degradation of PAs. As always theory deviates from the truth, as no PA is completely unregulated, and restrictions apply almost everywhere. It does, however cast a light on the necessity to adapt the management of these resources to previously unknown recreationist stampedes.

2.3 No Commons – No Tragedy, approaching Solutions

The notion that access has to be restricted at least for popular PAs remains more or less uncontested since the spread of the ToC ideology.It can be seen as a premonition of likely outcomes if regulations should fail to suppress individual exploitation and reciprocity effects at the cost of altruism and prudence (Wade 2005). Contrasting to this mutual consent is the animated question how it should be achieved.

Approaches at solutions can be categorized under the following rubrics:

1. Restricting Public Property

Hardin (1968) suggested to “keep them [PAs] as public property, but to allocate the right to enter them”. The right to access could be distributed by a variety of criteria, each of which is subject to a variety of strengths and flaws. He suggested allocating visiting rights by; willingness and financial status to pay entry fees, merit by physical capability, lottery or on a first-come first-served basis. In practice slight modifications and combinations of these principles can be observed around the world.

Especially the first approach is commonly implemented, converting PAs into a public utility, which covers at least parts of the costs by charging the visitor, replacing public funding (More et al 2005). The different means by which public assess can be restricted are all subject to a range of assets and drawbacks, some of which will be discussed in the consideration of Privatization.

2. Communally based management

This approach is especially promising for smaller areas that have little international recognition but are off local importance. Common rights restricted to a certain social or ethnical group can be a feasible (Feeney et al. 1990), as long as utilization pressure is not increased and the ToC mechanism becomes effective again.

3. Privatization

“In short, privatization is the shift away from direct government provision of goods and services to the private sector” (Schwartz 2005). It is not a new candidate among proposed solutions to the ToC, yet the most controversially discussed and probably also the most influential in pending management strategy modifications.

3. Privatization of Protected Areas

3.1 Increments

Privatization is not an all or none choice. There are several increments in between governmentally and privately owned and run PAs, which are often interim stages in an advancing process. As an alternative to an overall governmentally managed and funded approach it has been suggested that to outsource some of the tasks to private companies. As a further approach to total privatization is the idea that PAs could be owned and run by not-for-profit organizations. However blurred delineations (Logan et al. 2008) make it difficult to ascribe certain benefits or disadvantages to the different privatizing degrees. Thus, in the following the array of arguments commonly resorted to by contestants are discussed in their cogency and assignment (Table 1).

3.2. Pros and Cons

3.2.1 The Burden on the Taxpayer

Publicly owned and run PAs are funded primarily by taxes. This fact has been reproached with being unfair since not every citizen is visiting the national PAs (). This however fails to acknowledge that there is substantial benefit derived from ecosystem services e.g. the purification of air and water or erosion control, that are not restricted to visitors. Economically these goods are positive externalities since their full benefits are not reflected in the market price, leading to their underprovision (as in PA numbers and sizes). If taxation was not a financing PAs this would further be equally unfair as it would make all non-visitors not paying entrance fees free-riders.

3.2.2 Efficiency

The second strongly advertised notion is that governmentally run PAs suffer from bureaucratic structures and low-flexibility. Many of the employees have long-term working-contracts and ideologies are fixed to the staff. Also, the major proportion of the budget is spent on salary costs since there is little opportunity to adjust personnel numbers to changing demands (More 2005). While there might be some truth to this, these restrictions also have their advantages. For instance, will permanent staff have a higher degree of expertise and also a bigger self-interest in the continuity and well-being of the PA (Wade 2005). Outsourcing is therefore a more practical approach that could enhance efficiency while safeguarding appropriate objectives by governmental regulation. Also, the provision of services by the public sector only, has been denoted to be a monopolistic structure (Moore 2005), since there is no competition in service provision involved. This argumentation is leading the general idea of governmentally provided services and goods ad absurdum, since the aim of governmental intervention is not economic benefit but increased overall welfare.

3.2.3. Service provision& Commercialization

Management of privately run PAs will have a stronger focus on service provisioning since it depicts the almost sole income source. Thus agreeably there will be higher levels of comfort and a wider range of activities and accommodations to choose from. It remains in the eye of the beholder, if this is actually a desirable trend. Also there is a stronger incentive for privately run PAs to allow for higher visitor densities. It is questionable if the economic incentives to preserve the natural integrity as the enterprises´ resource are large enough to grant for the conservational status that is aspired for in public PAs. While both privately and publicly owned PA management is subject to a trade-off in-between conservation and recreation representing income, the latter will shift the result in favor of the utilitarian aspect. It is the strongest argument of privatization opponents, that the risk of PAs being `disneyfied´ to generate income will result in the destruction of our natural heritage. And this does by no means suit the majority of the consumer’s demands, as many are drawn to PAs as the last bastion of genuine inspiration away from status anxiety and capitalistic achievement-oriented society.

3.2.4. Environmental Education, Conservation & other scientific tasks

A further implication of overemphasized economic objectives could be the reduction of any service or tasks that proofs to score low in cost-benefit analyses. Conservational efforts for instance will focus on issues which are the catching the eye of the visitors. For instance it can be assumed that there will be sound waste management and appropriate protection of flagship species, ecologically sound and more general conservational approaches are likely to be dismissed as cost-intensive while of little marketing value. The same holds true for environmental education, as unfortunately the willingness to pay of visitors will likely be bigger for recreational activities like jet boating, than that for a discourse on invasive species.

3.2.5 Vulnerability to market fluctuations

As any commodified good, PAs under private ownership will be highly volatile to market fluctuations. In time of crisis, less will be spend on recreational activities and the high flexibility of private PA management will thus cut down services but also remaining conservational efforts. This however also applies to a certain extent to PAs in public hand, as `…concerns such as protected areas are often among the first government spending to be targeted for budget cuts…´ (Schwartz 2005).

[...]

Excerpt out of 14 pages

Details

Title
Green Pleasure Grounds. From The Tragedy of Commons to the Drama of Conservation
Grade
1,0
Author
Year
2010
Pages
14
Catalog Number
V914039
ISBN (eBook)
9783346233400
ISBN (Book)
9783346233417
Language
English
Tags
Tradgedy of the commons, nature conservation, privatisation, protected areas, tourism, economization
Quote paper
Alice Mercier (Author), 2010, Green Pleasure Grounds. From The Tragedy of Commons to the Drama of Conservation, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/914039

Comments

  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Green Pleasure Grounds. From The Tragedy of Commons to the Drama of Conservation



Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free