Common Property and Natural Resources in the Alps: The Decay of Management Structures

"Local-authority and collective forms of ownership still tend to dominate in the Alpine regions. This article concentrates on collective ownership or common property in the Alps and poses the question as to its importance with respect to the sustainable use of natural resources in the mountain regions. The concept of common property or collective ownership is explained in the first part of the article and the advantages and disadvantages of this ideal type of regulatory system, at least as presented in the literature, are explored briefly. Based on empirical examples in Switzerland, the second part of this article shall demonstrate how common property regimes have undergone a change, despite the basically unchanging nature of property rights. This article and especially the chosen cases question the studies carried out by Netting (1976; 1981), who examined alpine, meadow and forest management in the Valais village of Torbel. Netting demonstrated that a differentiated collective property order for forests, meadows and alps is no historical anachronism and can produce entirely valid results. Chapter three is, therefore, concerned with recent trends and emerging management forms for forests, water courses and alps."
mountain regions, property rights, common pool resources, collective action, institutional change, land tenure and use, forest policy, pastoralism, water resources