While on the flight back from North Carolina yesterday, I picked up the February, 2005 issue of the US Airways inflight magazine, AttachÃ?Â??Ã?Â?Ã?Â©. In it was an article on “The Dutch Wadden Islands” by Barry Yegman. What caught my eye?
I’m with Arthur Oosterbaan, a marine ecologist, who has offered to show me Terschelling through a native’s eye. As we ride, he tells me the history of this distinctive Dutch sandscape.
“These dunes were once overwhelmed by sheep and cattle, because everyone had the right to graze here,” he explains. “It was called oerol, which means ‘everywhere.’ ” During World War II, the Germans put an end to the practice–a good idea for the wrong reason–and afterward, the islanders planted grasses to repair the breaches in the dunes. “Now we don’t want oerol back because the dunes are so much greener and more beautiful.”
Another example of the importance of the ability to exclude, which is a central element in the bundle of rights we call “ownership.” It can make the difference between bare dunes and dunes that are “so much greener and more beautiful.” If only Greenpeace and the Sierra Club would….but no, that would be asking too much, wouldn’t it?