Stuff I do: Competing Claims on Natural Resources

Here is a project I like to tell students about to make them aware that conservation comes at a price. It was on Dutch television last summer:

If you don’t understand Dutch: the project is called Competing Claims as it investigates conflicts between wildlife conservation and the livelihoods of local residents. To put it bluntly, it is very easy for a Dutch granola-munching environmental student to argue for conservation of elephants and lions, but if you’re a farmer near the park fence and you can hardly earn a decent living while elephants trample your crops and lions eat your cattle (or your son), you’re probably less than enthousiastic.

These conflicts are terribly difficult to solve, but one step in the right direction is to make explicit who is affected, how they are affected, how serious the effects are, and what tradeoffs are present. Economics can play a modest role in this by analysing those tradeoffs, and assessing economic impacts.

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