Homesteading Pure Nature Preserves

From: Madlovics Bálint

Sent: Friday, August 07, 2020 4:59 AM

To: Walter Block <>

Subject: Question about environmentalism and homesteading

Dear Walter,

I hope all’s well with you.

I and a group of libertarian friends here in Hungary were talking about homesteading, and a puzzle came up which we couldn’t solve. Homesteading theory says we need to “mix our labor” with the unowned thing to homestead it. But what if I want to have something precisely to protect it from intervention? Consider a rainforest. Let’s say I’m a free-market environmentalist and I want to own the rainforest so I can preserve it in its natural, unmolested form, free from any intervention. I can certainly do this by trade: if someone already owns the rainforest, I can buy it from them, and then leave it on its own. But can I do this by homesteading? Can I claim ownership of an unowned rainforest without molesting it, or I must give up my environmentalist ideals and interfere with the rainforest’s natural state in order to homestead it? (The rainforest is one example; maybe there is some unowned land I want to own to keep people from messing with its natural beauty.)

Best wishes,


Walter Block <>

Dear Balint:

Happily, I have written about this:

Block, Walter E. and Michael R. Edelstein. 2012. “Popsicle sticks and homesteading land for nature preserves.” Romanian Economic and Business Review. Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring, pp. 7-13;

Best regards,



6:16 am on October 19, 2020