Conservation success depends on habits and history

The ghosts of harvesting can haunt today's conservation efforts.

Conserving or overharvesting a renewable resource like fish or other wildlife is often determined by habits and past decisions, according to a Rutgers-led study that challenges conventional expectations that the collapse of fast-growing natural resources is unlikely.

Lead author Edward W. Tekwa, a post-doctoral associate in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, said conservation is much easier to continue once it is started.

The study found that those who start conserving can often stick with it but when conservation is not in place, the opposite is true, he said.

"Surprisingly, we found that people often get trapped by their past decisions," Tekwa said. "If they start out overharvesting, they tend to continue overharvesting. But once people start conserving, this behavior is also self-perpetuating and gets amplified. Policies change slowly."

Read full article . . .