Back to search

3 Reasons Property Rights Are Essential for Healthy Ecosystems

We have all heard the statistics about ecosystems’ demise. More than a billion people live in water-scarce regions. Thirty percent of the world’s forests have been cleared, and another 20 percent degraded. And nearly 500 million people live in drylands that are becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change.

But what many people do not realize is that a lack of property rights rests at the heart of much of this environmental degradation. Property rights, or people’s legal right to own, use and sell land, resources and other goods, provide an incentive to sustainably use natural resources.

However, people in many countries around the world do not have clear property rights over land, water, minerals and more, putting natural resources at great risk.
Here are three reasons why clear and enforced property rights are essential for keeping ecosystems healthy:

1. Property rights can prevent ecosystem degradation

2. Property rights can encourage the provision of ecosystem services

3. Property rights can promote investment in conservation and efficient use of resources.

Investing in Property Rights Is a Cost-effective Investment in Nature 

We may not be charged for nature, but the costs of ecosystem loss and degradation are felt by all. While governments could regulate resource use and punish overuse, this sort of arrangement can be costly, time-intensive and difficult to enforce. Strengthening property rights is an efficient way to benefit people, land and resources.