Institutional Options for the Protection of Open Space: Evidence from Poland
This paper seeks to contribute to the development of institutional options for the management of public goods in Central and Eastern Europe. It assesses the potential of different governance structures, including administrative hierarchies, market approaches, and efforts at local non-market co-ordination. The paper examines the management of public goods in Central and Eastern Europe through a study of open space management and urban sprawl in a semi-urban county near Warsaw, Poland. The protection of open space poses significant challenges to semi-urban land management, as its benefits cannot be captured by individual entities and accrue as much to urban residents as to local people. The concrete institutional options investigated comprehend the use of land registers for monitoring land conversion, establishment of land trusts in part financed by a development gains tax, and technical and organisational support for local environmental organisations. The evaluation of options builds on an analysis of causes underlying rapid land conversion in the past decade. The causal analysis demonstrates that privatization and decentralisation have evoked the radical changes in land use. The demand for housing land motivated farmers to sell semi-urban land, as the state could not enforce its legal oversight over land use. Land conversion was driven by local alliances of farmers eager to "cash in" on their newly acquired rights of alienation, a broader rural society primarily interested in economic development, and local authorities lured by increasing tax revenues.
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