Taking Ostrom to Indiana forests

October 13, 2009
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

How rich that Elinor Ostrom, the Indiana University professor who won a Nobel prize for economics yesterday, got her nails dirty researching how people in pockets of forests in undeveloped nations allocate their natural resources.

Indiana of course has some of the world’s best hardwood forests. So, how would her theory work here?

Ostrom’s research focuses not on traditional free-market economics or the other extreme of centralized planning, but on how people manage resources when they share the resources in common and make their own rules at the local level.

The rap on common resources—“the tragedy of commons”—is that resources become overused. However, Ostrom found that people who use common property tend to think in terms of making the resources last. They develop rules and acceptable behaviors resulting in more sustainable forests, or water or other resources.

Most Indiana forests have been managed for maximum production of oak, cherry, walnut and other prized species. But environmental groups complain of logging equipment churning up fragile soil and landowners cutting down the best specimens, thus removing their ability to produce seeds.

Timber operators and landowners counter that they care for the land as well as possible in order to maximize their investments, not to mention maintaining a great way of life. Ray Moistner, who leads the Indiana Hardwood Lumberman’s Association, a trade group of sawyers and others in the industry, says forests in the state overwhelming are managed for long-term growth.

In fact, Moistner maintains, the loose-knit network of landowners could be compared to the local groups Ostrom discovered.

“Our lands are sustainable here when left to themselves and to this common group of owners managing their forest land,” Moistner says.

What do you think? Which economic system is best for managing natural resources?

Anyone want to try on Ostrom’s work at a practical level here in Indiana?

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. PJ - Mall operators like Simon, and most developers/ land owners, establish individual legal entities for each property to avoid having a problem location sink the ship, or simply structure the note to exclude anything but the property acting as collateral. Usually both. The big banks that lend are big boys that know the risks and aren't mad at Simon for forking over the deed and walking away.

  2. Do any of the East side residence think that Macy, JC Penny's and the other national tenants would have letft the mall if they were making money?? I have read several post about how Simon neglected the property but it sounds like the Eastsiders stopped shopping at the mall even when it was full with all of the national retailers that you want to come back to the mall. I used to work at the Dick's at Washington Square and I know for a fact it's the worst performing Dick's in the Indianapolis market. You better start shopping there before it closes also.

  3. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  4. If you only knew....

  5. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

ADVERTISEMENT