Chapter 9: Global investment flows in land restoration and nature conservation
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Marja Spierenburg brings forth the consequences of the upsurge in investments in nature conservation and wildlife conservation, including land restoration and REDD+, showing the emergence of an ‘environmentalists’ paradox’, i.e. human wellbeing in areas with high rates of biodiversity is lower than in areas with degraded ecosystems. While premised on promises to increase human wellbeing, investments in nature conservation are reshaping spaces, creating new forms of enclosure and exclusion, privatizing nature and turning it into a commodity. Focusing on investments in wildlife ranching in South Africa, she shows the consequences for local groups, whose manoeuvring space is increasingly limited. The impacts of investments and nature conservation depend on connections between investors, and national and local governments as well as global environmental governance, and on global economic relations. The creation of an ‘investment friendly climate’ may be to the advantage of some, but to the detriment of others. Studies on impacts need to take these translocal development connections into account. This is especially relevant given the rise of new, complex investment products the impacts of which have not yet been studied thoroughly. Investors may operate in an increasingly ‘borderless’ world, moving their money around freely, but the impacts may be felt locally, without investors even being aware of the consequences of their actions.

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