Wetlands. Market and intervention failures. Four case studies

Wetlands. Market and intervention failures. Four case studies

Ecological Economics, 6 (1992) 175-184 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam 175 Book Reviews WETLANDS Wetlands. Market and Intervention Fail...

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Ecological Economics, 6 (1992) 175-184 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam


Book Reviews WETLANDS

Wetlands. Market and Intervention Failures. Four Case Studies. Kerry Turner and Tom Jones (Editors). Earthscan Publications Limited, London, United Kingdom, 1990. 202 pp., g12.95. ISBN l-85383-102-6. As the title indicates, this book contains case studies of the use of wetlands. Four different countries are included: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Spain. In the first chapter the disposition of the four case studies is outlined. All case studies contain an overview of the current status of wetlands and historical losses. The analyses of the causes of these losses are structured around three different, but interlinked, types of failures: information failure, market failure and intervention failure. The cases studies also contain proposals for the long-term sustainable management of wetlands. According to the authors, the book mainly focuses on temperate wetlands due to lack of information on tropical wetlands and their valuation. On a global scale, and in all countries referred to in this book, a large proportion of the original wetlands has been converted to agricultural, recreational and industrial uses. In Spain, coastal wetlands have been developed for tourism, and in France rivers have been damaged due to hydrological constructions. In some countries, between 60 and 80% of the original wetlands have been exploited. It should be noted that the rate of conversion is still high in several countries. It is emphasized that this large conversion would not have taken place if the multifunctionality and the value of wetlands were fully understood. Wetlands provide for different life-supporting functions such as flood protection, preservation of habitat for waterfowl and nutrient purification. Lack of information on these values, i.e. information failure, is one important reason for the inefficient use of wetlands. Information failure is closely linked to market failure, since market prices do not fully reflect the value of wetlands. Another reason for the inefficient functioning of the market is that the owners of wetlands do not accrue all the benefits of proper management. The chemical and biological quality of many wetlands have also been degraded through water-borne pollution from agriculture, industry and sewage treatment plants.




Another failure related to information and market failures is that policies aimed at improving production in certain sectors affect the use of wetlands in a negative way. These side-effects of sector policies are defined as intervention failures. It is noted that one very important driving force behind the large-scale conversion of wetlands has been subsidies to the agricultural sector. The authors state that in the US and the UK there is increasing awareness of the damage caused by the exploitation of wetlands. In these countries, policies have been implemented to limit such developments. These include government acquisition of wetlands and grants for conservation. A brief description of these policies is given. In France, conservation of wetlands has been given higher priority in organizations responsible for environmental management. In practice, however, very few measures have been implemented to improve the management of wetlands. This is a consequence of the difficulty of integrating environmental policy with other policies. In Spain there is a lack of general awareness of the value of wetlands and government interest in wetlands conservation in Spain is motivated mainly by signing different international conventions. This book is highly recommended to anybody interested in wetlands. It shows in a readable way the importance of linking wetland policies with sector policies. It would, however, be easier to follow the case studies if maps showing the locations of the wetlands that the authors refer to had been provided. I also miss a concluding discussion on the main similarities and differences in the management of wetlands in the four countries. It would also have been interesting to get some information on the possibilities and values of restoring degraded wetlands. But perhaps that is a topic for another book? ING-MARIE


The Beijer Institute International Institute of Ecological Economics The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Box 50005, S-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden




Economy and Ecology: Towards Sustainable Development. F. Archibugi and P. Nijkamp (Editors). Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1989. 348 pp. ISBN 0-79230477-2. The main theme and line of argument adopted by the editors majority of contributors to this volume of conference proceeedings

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