We\’ve just had a Nobel Prize awarded for explaining exactly this sort of thing:
The Pennine Way took another 33 years to inch its way across the Dark Peak. Arguments against access were built on the premise that the wilderness would be overwhelmed by the likes of Benny Rothman\’s British Workers\’ Sports Federation, which rallied communists, ramblers and students for the trespass. Proven wrong, the objections are stood on their head by Natural England\’s designation of this 224th national nature reserve.
Well, no you see. They weren\’t proven wrong. They were proven right:
It is a popular hiking location and the Pennine Way crosses Kinder Scout and the moors to the North. This has resulted in the erosion of the underlying peat, prompting work by Derbyshire County Council and the Peak District National Park to repair it.
Now as to that Nobel: Olstrom\’s work is all about how, where and when limits to access to a common resource work and when they don\’t. There\’s the purely private property approach, there\’s the government regulation approach and there\’s, well, various sides can claim it actually. Voluntary cooperation, spontaneous order perhaps: or communalism and collectivity in another view. But the people invloved in a resource can (sometimes) work out rules to make sure that it\’s not over-exploited.
And from what I\’ve seen of her work (nothing directly, simply reading other people\’s views of it) Kinder Scout is one of those areas where the communal or spontaneous version won\’t work: there are simply too many people with potential access. Tens and hundreds of thousands rather than the smaller groups she thinks can make something like this work.
Which is why of course we\’ve got that nature reserve designation. That allows a restriction of acess through regulation.
We still come back to the point that open access to a common resource doesn\’t work when the demand for that resource outstrips sustainable supply. Thus we have to limit access: which we can do in a number of different ways dependent upon the resource and other circumstances. But limit access we must: Marxian open access just don\’t work.