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Back to the Basics: Improved Property Rights can Help Save Ecuador's Rainforests

  • Year: 2004
  • Author: Hite, Kristen
  • Journal Name: Georgetown International Environmental Law Review
  • Journal Number: Vol.16, No.4
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Law Center
  • Published Location: Washington, United States
  • Country: Ecuador

Conservation is a long-term investment, and strong property rights are the principal means by which this investment is secured. This paper seeks to illustrate how insecure property rights lead to unsustainable land management, while more secure property rights allow local users to capture the benefits of conservation-minded sustainable development. Ecuador will serve as a case study for this theory through an analysis of property rights in the eastern Amazon region and the resulting implications for rainforest conservation. Part Two of this paper distinguishes sustainable forest management techniques from unsustainable uses. Part Three discusses the need for fortified property rights, as current property laws have proven insufficient to ensure conservation measures due to non-exclusive property rights, inequitable distribution of these rights, and weak enforcement. Part Four considers specific market-based conservation measures that can be implemented once stronger property rights become institutionalized.

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