Journal of Arid Land Studies
Online ISSN : 2189-1761
Print ISSN : 0917-6985
ISSN-L : 0917-6985
Refereed Papers (Oral Presentation)
Tragedy of the Commons Revisited Grazing, Land Degradation and Desertification on Multi-Use, Public Lands of Nevada
William A. PAYNE
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2016 Volume 26 Issue 3 Pages 121-128


When Hardin introduced the Tragedy of the Commons, he used grazing on public lands in the western USA as an example of a system that inevitably contributed to land degradation and ruin. Public land use is especially relevant to the state of Nevada, where 87% of land is managed by federal agencies. Public lands were intended to serve multiple uses, including grazing, recreation, energy development, and habitat for wildlife and horses. Competing views on the proper balance among uses are often based on emotion rather than sound science. These have led to several politically charged debates over 1) water, 2) wildfire, 3) invasive species, and 4) endangered species, all of which are intimately connected to agriculture. Frequently disagreements are litigated in federal courts, which is a slow and expensive method of conflict resolution that rarely furthers the goals of sustainable land management. An alternative model is presented based on systems-based research that includes scientists, federal agencies, land owners, and diverse stakeholders, including environmentalists. In the alternative, more participatory model, communities focus on long term collaborative solutions to reduce habitat-related conflicts. A landscape- and watershed- approach is taken to land management, which includes several elements of indigenous or local knowledge. Remote sensing is an increasingly invaluable tool to monitor land degradation, and simulation modeling can be used to guide decision-making. Both can be used to better inform discussion and debate surrounding public land use.

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© 2016 The Japanese Association for Arid Land Studies
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