ED Blog: The Beauty of the Commons

The term “tragedy of the commons” was made popular (but likely not invented) by ecologist Garrett Hardin in his landmark article in 1968. It has evolved over time to describe situations where individuals making self-serving decisions on common property resources will ultimately deplete the resource in detriment to the common good. During my 40 years of working in resource management, the tragedy of the commons has often been blamed for the depletion of our shared natural resources.

In my view, the “commons” should be regarded as a beautiful thing.

Photo: No padlocks, no fences. Cam’s son, Evan, enjoying the “Beauty of the Commons” on the Ottawa River.

As a child growing up in Scotland in the 60’s, my grandfather would take me fishing. He made ten pounds a week in a foundry (about $30), and would pay one pound for the use of a key to unlock the gate to a privately-owned fenced lake (read: pond) for a day’s fishing.

Today, I enjoy the privilege of access to world-class fishing in Ontario in over 250,000 bodies of water – for a full year – for less than the cost of a case of beer (within the regulations, of course!).

Shared resources can only be sustained through shared responsibility. Anglers and hunters must continue to play an important part in conservation, and it doesn’t stop with buying a license.  At Wildlife Habitat Canada, we are fortunate to support the many hunting and angling groups across the country engaged in conservation and stewardship activities to ensure that the “beauty of the commons” continues for future generations to enjoy.

Don’t take your privilege for granted. Get involved!

Cameron Mack
Executive Director
Wildlife Habitat Canada