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Conservation Biology - 11. Overexploitation

Course Code
BIOL 3130
Andrew Mac Dougall

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Conservation Biology: Lecture Notes
11. Overexploitation
Sustainable Harvesting
-Problem: If there are only so many resources…
Why do we still over-exploit (knowing that there are limits)?
Are their solutions to this problem?
The tragedy of the commons
-Common: a piece of land owned by one person, but over which other people can
exercise certain traditional rights, such as allowing their livestock to graze upon it.
- Multiple individuals acting independently in their own self-interest ultimately destroy a
shared limited resource even where it is clear that it is not in anyone's long term interest
for this to happen.
- Ex: Cow Herders :
It is in each herder's interest to put as many cows as possible onto the land, even if
the commons is damaged as a result.
The herder receives all of the benefits from the additional cows, while the damage
to the commons is shared by the entire group.
If all herders make this individually rational decision, however, the commons is
destroyed and all herders suffer.
- The bottom line is, land users cannot be relied upon to make rationale decisions, even if
it’s in their own best interest…
- Asks for a strict management of global common goods via increased government
involvement or/and international regulation bodies
- Leading to calls for privacy over public ownership and colonial style conservation
How the tragedy of the commons works in the real world
- There are attempts to maximize trade-offs among the value of the product, the costs of
extraction, and the population dynamics of the species
- A universal problem:
competition between sustainable versus unsustainable groups
short-term benefits (political, economic)
poor quality data for management strategies
Consequences of overexploitation:
- Enormous impacts on target species
- Populations:
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