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Neglected Features of the Safe Minimum Standard: Socio-economic and Institutional Dimensions

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  • Irmi Seidl
  • Clem Tisdell

Abstract

This article describes and critically investigates core features of the safe minimum standard of conservation (SMS), as outlined by Ciriacy-Wantrup, which have been neglected, de-emphasized or poorly interpreted. Different ensuing interpretations and developments of SMS, aimed at giving it a theoretical basis and operationalizing it, are scrutinized. It is shown that the definition of features such as irreversibility, uncertainty, threshold and critical zone imply a socio-economic and institutional approach of SMS. Hence, endeavors to find a formal and positive foundation (game theory) or to identify SMS as an adjunct to cost-benefit analysis are unsuccessful. Rather, approaches assigning the definition of acceptable resource use to politics and society conform with SMS (e.g. by political norm setting or societal discourse). Furthermore, the paper discusses close normative relatives of SMS and identifies intragenerational distributional justice as a crucial variable for setting SMS. It is argued that SMS is a socio-economic and institutional approach; this should be the basis for further discussion and development of SMS.

Suggested Citation

  • Irmi Seidl & Clem Tisdell, 2001. "Neglected Features of the Safe Minimum Standard: Socio-economic and Institutional Dimensions," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(4), pages 417-442.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:59:y:2001:i:4:p:417-442
    DOI: 10.1080/00346760110081553
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Tisdell, Clem, 1990. "Economics and the debate about preservation of species, crop varieties and genetic diversity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 77-90, April.
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    11. Robert P. Berrens & David S. Brookshire & Michael McKee & Christian Schmidt, 1998. "Implementing the Safe Minimum Standard Approach: Two Case Studies from the U.S. Endangered Species Act," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 74(2), pages 147-161.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bandara, Ranjith & Tisdell, Clement A., 2003. "Willingness to pay for different degrees of Abundance of Elephants," Economics, Ecology and Environment Working Papers 48966, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
    2. Tisdell, Clem, 2003. "Socioeconomic causes of loss of animal genetic diversity: analysis and assessment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 365-376, July.

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