ABSTRACT

While it is true that a great deal (perhaps the greater part) of what has been done in the name of "conservation policy" turns out, upon subjection to economic analysis, to be worthless, or worse, it is nevertheless also true that economic theory can offer a formulation of the conservation objective sufficiently clear and precise to permit the derivation of rational policies in the future. Such a formulation, like the application of economic theory in other fields of policy, can be no match for the passionate romanticism with which the question has been invested in political platforms and public discussion, but some of the policies of the past and present are sufficiently egregious to convince even dedicated conservationists of their error or, at least, insufficiency. Perhaps it is too much to hope that in their hour of confusion and despair, the protectors of nature might turn to economics for succor, but even idealistic hopes have the quality of springing eternal,1

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