Harford, Preservation Paradox - Tim Harford The...

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Tim Harford, “The Preservation Paradox: Why conservation laws can kill the animals they're supposed to protect.” Slate , 19 August 2006. The view from my upstairs window in London has changed a little now that the beautiful old neighborhood church has been flattened. The church disappeared almost overnight despite attempts to preserve it—or, more accurately, because of attempts to preserve it. No surprise to an economist, but what's going on? The story is simple. The neighborhood council was discussing the possibility of extending a conservation area to include the church. Once that happened, it would be difficult to get permission to demolish the church and build something else. The developers weren't stupid and knocked the old building down while they still could. The Endangered Species Act, which gives federal agencies broad powers to restrict development in order to protect species, can produce the same perverse incentives. Economists Dean Lueck and Jeffrey Michael studied what happened when the rare red-cockaded woodpecker was discovered in commercially valuable forests in North Carolina. Forest owners who were
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