A fundamental issue in many LDCs is the degree to which natural resource mismanagement is caused by common property arrangements. This view has led to widespread attempts to "privatize" forests, rangelands and water resources. Many of these efforts have failed to stop overuse, and have contributed to inequality in resource distribution. This paper seriously questions this approach, and describes a number of reasons why common property may continue to be both efficient and equitable, complementing and combining with private rights in a way consistent with the resource endowments of village economies. A theoretical approach is outlined, showing that the "Tragedy of the Commons" is an unsatisfactory model of common property. An alternative model is presented, together with a call for research into institutional alternatives in resource management.