Linking forest tenure rights to environmental impacts in forests, fisheries and rangelands

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Debate over the effects of different property regimes on natural resource systems has long been controversial, incited by Hardin's (Hardin 1968) thesis that common pool resources will inevitably suffer from overexploitation and degradation. A large, diverse, and rapidly growing body of literature has investigated the links between different property rights regimes and environmental outcomes and shown that common, government, and private property rights regimes are each capable of yielding sustainable environmental outcomes. However, the existing evidence base is highly fragmented. There also exists a large body of literature reviews assessing the evidence base, but these reviews have been limited in scope, focusing on specific resource systems and specific regime comparisons without examining the links between property rights regimes and environmental outcomes across these resource systems. Also, few studies compare impacts across geographical regions. This paper addresses this knowledge gap through a systematic review that assesses current knowledge of the impacts of property rights regimes on environmental outcomes in forests, fisheries, and rangelands in developing countries. We use a bundle of rights approach to assess environmental impacts across the three main property rights regimes-state, private, and community-as well as mixed property rights regimes that involve some combination of these three. This on going review makes several conclusions. First, community forestry is performing better than state forestry in Asia while communities are performing worse than the state in Africa and Latin America. While under Forestry and rangelands presence of any type of property rights arrangement is performing better than open access, under fisheries particularly in Latin America, state fishery yields similar environmental outcomes to open access situations

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