“The rabbit runs faster than the fox, because the rabbit is running for his life while the fox is only running for his dinner.”
— R. Dawkins
Incentives are everything!
If there is no incentive then creating change becomes increasingly challenging and time consuming. Finding the correct incentive is the major challenge in most situations. Most people make decisions based on what is in there best interest, it is important to link the individuals well being with that of the collective goal.
I think its helpful to define incentives, "incentives are models that push people in the direction of a desired result through mutual benefits between the individual and the collective goal or organization".
I would like to focus on a unique idea for this short essay, it may be unorthodox but has been mentioned before by influential individuals. If we think of wildlife as a “crop", popularized by "Aldo Leopold" we may begin to develop the proper incentives needed as we progress further into the 21st century. Is there the possibility for landowners to make a living producing "wildlife crops". What should the actual crop be. When we get down to the core principles of wildlife management we know that suitable habitat is the foundational building block. In order for wildlife management to be truly effective it must be a bottom-up approach instead of the bureaucratic top down approach of today.
If we can farm high value habitat will it intern lead to more wildlife. Farming valuable habitat sounds like an idea with considering in theory but at this moment seems implausible and somewhat crazy. Our economic terms and market have no current incentive to do this, we have to remember that the "market is the market” What people want becomes important, what becomes important makes money. I believe it important to fully understand how significant the “economy" and the “market" in general is to wildlife management. The “market” defined by Adam Smith : The market not as a specific place or service where buyers and sellers are brought together (although it might sometimes involve these), but rather the broad set of typically pairwise exchanges whereby the supply chain that makes a product is coordinated”. Bringing people together to facilitate value has long been the source of great achievement, when we work from a bottom up approach we allow ticketing, trial and error, this produces failure for some, but strengthens the whole. As "Matt Ridley” outlined in the provoking book "The Evolution of Everything” top down management fails to produce sufficient results and progress and we are often lead to believe and mistake the cause for the effect.
"If there is one dominant myth about the world, one huge mistake we all make, one blind spot, it is that we all go around assuming the world is much more of a planned place the it is. As a result, again and again we mistake cause for effect; we blame the sailing boat for the wind, or credit the bystander with causing the event. A battle won, so a general must have won it (not the malaria epidemic that debilitated the enemy army); a child learns, so the teacher must have taught her (not the books, peers and curiosity that the teacher helped find); as species saved, so a conservationist must have saved it (not the invention of fertilizer which cut the amount of land needed to feed the population); an invention is made, so an inventor must have invented it ( not the inexorable, inevitable ripeness of the next technological step); a crises occurs, so we see a conspiracy ( and not a cock-up). We describe the world as if people and institutions were always in charge, when often they are not”.
-Matt Ridley, The Evolution of Everything
To view the market and the economy as a partner in wildlife management is important, "the more open the free market the less opportunity there is for exploration and predation”. Is there a way to manage wildlife from the bottom up, can the slow moving and intervening autocratic approach of government be changed. Successful management of wildlife and associated habitat comes down to the “incentives" and its place in the market. can individuals find a way to turn wildlife conservation into profit, if this is allowed then we will likely see increases in both wildlife numbers and available habitat, for the livelihood of one individual will be directly linked to the successful recruitment of of new wildlife (wildlife crop).
As with anything, incentives included, there must be considerations. Understanding the appropriate incentives comes through second-and third-level-thinking. Many incentive systems have backfired due to the failure to consider other interests and incentives.
An example is monetary rewards offered to help exterminate unwanted animals such as rats and snakes. What authorities failed to foresee was that people would start to breed the rats and snakes. Forcing people to have overly complex passwords can be another perverse incentive. When faced with this complexity we simply write down our passwords somewhere “safe”.
-Laurence Endersen, Pebbles of Perception
Through research we know that money is not enough to create a strong incentive, it must also result in a feeling of self work and being proud of what you are trying to accomplish.
Good incentives acknowledge recognition, public perception, and the value of pursuing work that we can be proud of. So yes, if we want to persuade, we should appeal to interests not reason. But when it comes to interests, appeal not just to net worth but also to self-worth.
-Laurence Endersen, Pebbles of Perception
There is no easy answer in wildlife management, for if there was it would already being underway. In the long term allowing individuals to tinker and create a reason to escalate wildlife conservation will result in our greatest success. following and allowing the few at the top to dictate any direction will ultimately lead to overspending and although good intentioned likely failing in the actual proposed goal.
“Conservation will ultimately boil down to rewarding the private landowner who conserves the public interest.”
- Aldo Leopold