Policy Sciences

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 139–164 | Cite as

The underappreciated role of regulatory enforcement in natural resource conservation

  • Martin Nie


This article analyzes the role of prescriptive regulation and citizen-suit litigation (regulatory enforcement) in natural resource conservation in the USA. It first briefly explains why the judiciary is so involved in resource management and why litigation is so often used as a conservation tool. It then summarizes the extent to which regulatory enforcement is being threatened and/or undermined by Congress, the executive branch, and other interests. The analysis shows how regulatory enforcement often facilitates the use of less adversarial conservation strategies and that there are important synergies between them. Regulatory interactions with collaborative conservation, land and resource acquisitions/easements, and adaptive ecosystem management are analyzed.


Natural resource policy Environmental policy Governance Conservation Regulation Collaboration Easements Adaptive management 



I would like to thank Holly Doremus, Christopher McGrory Klyza, Courtney Schultz, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful thoughts and suggestions. In no way are these individuals responsible for this article’s content and analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Forestry and ConservationUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA

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