We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Common Resource?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A common resource is a resource readily accessible to all members of the public who wish to obtain benefits from it. Some examples are natural, like forests, rivers, and lakes. Others are made by humans, as in the case of irrigation canals and reservoirs. With a common resource, limiting availability would be difficult and members of the public theoretically can enjoy unrestricted use. Such resources are vulnerable to overuse, a concern sometimes addressed with legislation and other steps designed to protect common resources.

A big problem with common resources is that greed on the part of individuals can ruin the resource for the community. In an example using public pasturelands, if one farmer chooses to pasture more animals than his fair share, they will deplete the pasture, harming everyone's livestock. On the other hand, if a sustainable number of livestock can be determined and the people who share the land agree to limit their livestock to this number, everyone can enjoy the common resource, in addition to preserving it for future generations.

In a situation known as the tragedy of the commons, common resources are destroyed by acts of greed or a poor understanding of the limitations of that resource. People may take too much water from a river, for example, not realizing that they are basing their usage on water levels from flood years. In a situation known as the free rider problem, some people use more than their fair share of a common resource and everyone suffers because their over-exploitation of the resource diminishes the amount available to the community.

Humans have been taking advantage of common resources for thousands of years and numerous studies have been conducted to learn more about how people interact with common resources. To this day, arguments among different groups over resource usage can be very contentious, as seen among nations with disputed resources along shared borders. The Colorado River in the United States, for example, is a heavily exploited common resource disputed by multiple states, as well as Mexico. All of the claimants to the river's water rely on it, forcing them to negotiate a fair division of its contents.

Privatization of common resources is also a topic of concern in some areas of the world. While some resources are protected for use by members of the public, others may be purchased by private firms. People who previously enjoyed a resource for free or at low cost may resent having to pay for it, and privatization can limit access to the wealthiest individuals.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon173405 — On May 07, 2011

I constructed a compound wall near by irrigation canal. now the departments asked me to remove it. let me know how many meters i should leave from the canal to construct my compound wall?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.