Conservation, Biodiversity and International Law

Conservation, Biodiversity and International Law

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Alexander Gillespie

This important and timely book provides a rigorous overview of the defining issues presently facing conservation at international level. The author provides detailed coverage of topics ranging from the classification of species right through to access and benefit sharing, drawing on his personal experience at intergovernmental level. Each question is examined through the prism of dozens of treaties and hundreds of decisions and resolutions of the key multilateral regimes, and the law in each area is supplemented by the necessary considerations of science, politics and philosophy – providing much-needed context for the reader.

Chapter 5: Tangible Benefits

Alexander Gillespie

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, public international law


1. INTRODUCTION Although it is axiomatic, it is necessary to point out the obvious which is that humanity exists because of the Earth, its ecosystems and the species upon it – not the other way around. The well-being of every human population in the world is fundamentally and directly dependent upon non-human species and ecosystems in local, regional, and global contexts. Since the beginning of human time, humanity has prospered from the direct conversion and utilization of these resources. This pattern has not changed in the 21st century. From the food we eat to the purified air we breathe, biodiversity and ecosystems contribute both directly and indirectly to the success, if not the very existence, of humanity.1 This chapter is about the tangible benefits that biodiversity provides to humanity. Chapter 6 is about the intangible benefits. In this chapter, the focus is upon direct benefits (including those of genetic modification) and indirect benefits (at the macro, micro, and keystone levels). The economic value of all of these benefits, especially via tourism, is the foremost example of the tangible benefits of biodiversity. 2. DIRECT BENEFITS Direct anthropocentric self-interest is the most commonly touted reason to protect the environment. The broad rubric of self-interest encompasses a multitude of reasons. However, for the purpose of this chapter, I shall draw on the more direct benefits to humanity from nature. This broad idea of self-interested conservation has a long history as a justification to protect species.2 It first appeared in the Old Testament when God...

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