This CAE working paper considers the applications of normative and positive economics to natural resource problems. It concludes with a light hearted "users guide" for the effective involvement of economists in natural resource management. As a normative science, economics can help reveal how resources should used. As a positive science, economics provides a useful set of concepts and analytical tools that help predict patterns of resource use within a defined set of market and decision rules. Economists can be particularly effective participants in multi-disciplinary teams involved in both management and analysis of public and private resources if the author's "user's guide" is followed. Areas of high priority for natural resource economists include: 1) working towards a better understanding of the policy process as a precursor to improved natural resource policy; 2) developing ways to infer intensity or extent of effective demand for natural resource attributes that are not captured in a market price e.g. charging individual citizens for the perceived benefits of endangered species habitat; 3) more work on the economics of cooperation to aid developing better, more practical systems for managing common property resources like rangeland; and studying the effect of changing incentives on the choices made by rangeland users.
An Economic Perspective on Values and Natural Resource Policy
Center for Agriculture in the Environment Working Paper
Lawrence W. Libby
DeKalb, IL: American Farmland Trust
February 01, 1997
Reports and Guides
Conservation Policies and Programs