The Privatisation of Biodiversity?

The Privatisation of Biodiversity?

New Approaches to Conservation Law

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Colin T. Reid and Walters Nsoh

Current regulatory approaches have not prevented the loss of biodiversity across the world. This book explores the scope to strengthen conservation by using different legal mechanisms such as biodiversity offsetting, payment for ecosystem services and conservation covenants, as well as tradable development rights and taxation. The authors discuss how such mechanisms introduce elemhents of a market approach as well as private sector initiative and resources. They show how examples already in operation serve to highlight the design challenges, legal, technical and ethical, that must be overcome if these mechanisms are to be effective and widely accepted.

Chapter 8: Ethical issues

Colin T. Reid and Walters Nsoh

Subjects: environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law


There are substantial ethical objections to a market-based approach to biodiversity. The Land Ethic, Deep Ecology and Wild Law all call (in different ways) for humans to see themselves as part of the natural world, not as its masters who are free to buy, sell or destroy it. To the extent that schemes rely on the creation of habitats to balance losses which are being permitted to occur, there are concerns that these are inherently different from authentic habitats, and that returning land to its ‘wild’ state can destroy valuable human heritage. There are also concerns that some matters are inherently unsuited to a market-based approach and that there needs to be an appreciation that the application of such thinking alters our perception of relationships between parties and with the things being traded. It must be recognised, though, that existing legal approaches also embody choices which are relevant here and far from uncontestable.

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