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Common Property and Commercialism: Developing Appropriate Tools for Analysis

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Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Author: McElwee, Pamela
Date: 1994
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5684
Sector: Forestry
General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): tragedy of the commons
common pool resources
forest products
Ostrom, Elinor
Abstract: "Understanding what is meant by the 'tragedy of the commons' in relation to commonly owned property is fundamental to understanding resource and development economics. Far from being a tragedy, however, common property actually provides many economic, social and political benefits to users. Users of common property organise themselves in various ways using institutions to manage property communally, and the results are often successful examples of sustainable development. Unfortunately, common property has been under increasing threats from privatisation, population growth and other factors. One of the most significant pressures on common property is the commercialisation of products, especially non-wood products from forest-based common property resources. Commercialisation can have many effects on a resource, its users, and the institutions used to manage the resource. This paper develops an analytical model for understanding the interactions between common property and commercialisation, based on a number of case studies. It concludes that common property regimes are not threatened by commercialisation itself, but by the intensity of commercialisation. This intensity is a function of many socio-economic factors, which all combine to determine how a common property resource copes with commercial pressures. Tools for understanding CPRs and commercialisation are suggested, and possible ways to strengthen common property management are presented."

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