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Institutional Economics of Agricultural Soil Ecosystem Services

Author

Listed:
  • Bartosz Bartkowski

    () (UFZ—Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Economics, 04138 Leipzig, Germany)

  • Bernd Hansjürgens

    () (UFZ—Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Economics, 04138 Leipzig, Germany)

  • Stefan Möckel

    () (UFZ—Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Environmental and Planning Law, 04138 Leipzig, Germany)

  • Stephan Bartke

    () (UFZ—Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Economics, 04138 Leipzig, Germany)

Abstract

Who owns the soils? What seems to be a straightforward legal issue actually opens up a debate about the ecosystem services that can be derived from soils and the distribution of benefits and responsibilities for sustaining functioning and healthy soils. In particular, agricultural land use may be constrained by a lack of properly defined property rights. Using the new institutional economics perspective, we show that multifunctionality of soils and an attribute-based property rights perspective substantiate the intuition that land property implies special obligations towards the common good. The concept of ecosystem services can illustrate the variety of beneficiaries of multifaceted soil ecosystem services. This allows identification of reasons for unsustainable soil management that result from imperfections in the definition of property rights. We suggest implications for improved governance of agricultural soils using two case studies in the EU context: the EU Common Agricultural Policy and the use of planning instruments to steer agricultural soil use in Germany. Thus, we contribute to achieving the societal goals of more sustainable land use by detecting causes of shortcomings in current land regulation and by suggesting governance approaches to support a more sustainable management of agricultural soils.

Suggested Citation

  • Bartosz Bartkowski & Bernd Hansjürgens & Stefan Möckel & Stephan Bartke, 2018. "Institutional Economics of Agricultural Soil Ecosystem Services," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(7), pages 1-14, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:7:p:2447-:d:157731
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    ecosystem services; governance; institutions; land; property rights; soils; sustainability;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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