Biodiversity loss, viewed through the lens of mismatched property rights

Challie Facemire, Karen Bradshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Property theory is undergoing a revolution. For decades, theorists have envisioned rights as bilateral, focusing on intersections between directly adjacent landowners, or landowners and government actors. This over-simplified, two-dimensional model of property rights has resulted in laws that facilitate epic socio-ecological imbalances. In this paper, we apply the emergent theory of mismatched property rights to the problem of biodiversity loss. We observe that wildlife habitat for a single species can consist of tens of thousands of acres. Land parceling systems artificially divide wildlife habitat, fragmenting ownership of landscape-level resources. Managing large-scale habitats requires coordinating the interests of many property owners, often with divergent views on habitat management. Public lands’ landscape scale avoids this feature, but, nevertheless, still have competing resource users seeking to maximize allocation of natural resources rights. Wildlife habitat provides a particularly challenging variation on the theme of mismatched property rights. In this context, a primary stakeholder—wildlife—does not own property. We suggest that stakeholder collaborations are one understudied tool that functionally reincorporates wildlife resource uses into the existing property regime. Collaborations serve to re-scale resources so that they can be efficiently managed at their natural scale. Stakeholder collaborations cross administrative and property boundaries to create landscape-level management plans, which accommodates overlapping rights within differing boundaries. In this way, stakeholder collaborations appear to be playing a crucial, under-appreciated role in stemming biodiversity loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-661
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of the Commons
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Biodiversity
  • Collaboration
  • Property Rights
  • Stakeholders
  • Wildlife

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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