Round Table Discussion

"This Land Is My Land"

Immigration and Environmental Stewardship

The pressures that swelling populations exert against natural resources often increase economic inequality. Fortunately, unequally distributed wealth and power can result in forms of ownership that achieve environmental protection—for example, the arrangements of Colombian ranchers in the province of Cordoba. As Juan Forero writes in the New York Times (August 6): "A few years ago, Sergio Ochoa all but abandoned his ranch. Leftist guerrillas were extorting money from landowners and torching the homes of those who did not pay." Today, the ranch is protected and operating smoothly, since a privately paid force of paramilitary fighters wiped out the reigning guerrilla groups—all three of them. Like-minded ranchers, businessmen, and law-abiding citizens fund the peacemakers. The Colombian government is apoplectic—but why? Its own battle to subdue or negotiate with the drug-money guerrillas stands at approximately 0-8, or nra\\'be 0-18.

Sergio Ochoa lives on his ranch once again, expects his family to live there after him, and has even incentive to make sure that it remains productive. Property owners have a natural inclination to take care of their wealth-producing resources, because that which is conserved today will yield profit tomorrow. Conservation becomes a matter of self-interest.

The long-term results of private ownership are seen in the large tracts of open space and wildlife...

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