Can Biodiversity, A Public Good, be Delivered on Common Land through Management Organisations Founded on Optimising Private Property Rights?

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2008
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Abstract
"In Cumbria with over 30% of Englands Common Land many voluntary commoners associations exist to manage common rights for grazing. In the last 20 years the increasing demand for public goods has lead Natural England to work with commoners associations to deliver the favourable condition of vegetation on designated land. "Favourable condition is demanded by UK and European legislation and in many cases constrains the optimal agricultural use of private property rights on common land. This has resulted in Natural England paying commoners associations to reduce grazing for a period of time with the objective of achieving a recovery in the vegetation condition. In many cases the agreement is complied with but success can be limited if some commoners refuse to participate, or sign up and then fail to comply with the terms. Rarely is action taken by commoners in the association against other commoners. Why is this and what can be done? "If one commoner infringes rules on grazing he often had a negative impact on other commoners to enjoy their rights; hence there was an incentive to enforce the rules. The overlaying of national legislation has proved a challenge for associations who have limited incentive and powers to enforce agreements. It is argued that this is primarily because commoners are concerned with private property rights and the delivery or otherwise of public goods has no impact on their private rights. Arguably the impact of national legislation and government support to agriculture has also led to a weakening of some local associations capacity to enforce any rules. "Options will be explored to enhance the capacity of commoners associations both through statutory councils and the improved governance of existing structures."
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governance and politics, property rights, public goods and bads, protected areas, IASC
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