People tend to overuse resources such as forests, pastureland and fishing grounds to which they have open access and for which they have no designated responsibility. Government nationalization which seeks to eliminate open access can result in similar forms of resource abuse as a result of local non-ownership. Whilst there is a tendency to believe that public ownership and management is better than private or community control from the point of view of resource management, a case can be made for the reverse when the costs of resource degradation are borne largely by the resource "owner". Government policies that clarify and enforce property rights tend to encourage private investment in environmental protection, which reduces the financial requirements of government actions. While clarifying rights of ownership and use is no panacea, it has been shown to improve environmental outcomes, especially where those who invest in environmental protection would also benefit the most.
Even for natural resources other than land - minerals, trees and fish - if property rights are clearly defined, the self-interested decisions of owners have an incentive to maintain the quality of the resource, and thereby produce more desirable environmental outcomes than will open access. Private loggers on plantation forests, for instance, will weigh the returns from cutting trees today (including the accrued interest from investing these revenues) against future revenues, looking at price trends and the expected growth of timber yields.