Coupling property rights with responsibilities for conservation

Protecting biodiversity in the face of contemporary conservation challenges requires actions across all land and sea tenures.

In seeking improved conservation outcomes across these tenures, we undertook a multidisciplinary review of the property law, conservation and environmental ethics literature.

Our review revealed three major threats of property rights to conservation: a focus on tangible goods at the expense of intangible services, a focus on the plot rather than the land or seascape and a focus on rights over responsibilities.

Our analysis reveals that overcoming these threats requires a blending of the construct of property with both ecological principles and social values.

To this end, we offer a practical, solutions-focused approach that seeks to determine who has a responsibility, to whom they owe that responsibility and how that responsibility can be ascribed.

This approach couples specific property rights with defined responsibilities owed to resource systems to support current and future beneficiaries.

A formal recognition of the responsibilities that accompany rights can set the baseline of what society should be able to expect from rights-holders.

From this baseline, policy instruments can be more appropriately applied, supporting landholders in their responsibilities and where necessary, providing compensation for activities that extend beyond their responsibilities.

Read the full article in Conservation Letters