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Colin T Reid and Walters Nsoh

A range of legal tools is increasingly being used for the conservation of biodiversity. These tools include conservation covenants, biodiversity offsets and payment for ecosystem services. There are benefits to these approaches, but also challenges to be met if these mechanisms are to be applied successfully.

Among the challenges is the fact that these schemes generate new relationships between land, people and the environment, especially wildlife. This requires consideration of the basic position of ownership of wild flora and fauna, the extent of the property rights of landowners and others with interests in the land, and of how far the state is justified in restricting, and even taking over, these rights for conservation purposes. The restriction of property rights for environmental purposes has already given rise to litigation under the European Convention on Human Rights, and as ideas of long-term stewardship in land or new rights in relation to ecosystem services develop, there are questions over the nature and extent of the rights being recognized. Moreover, there are concerns over the acceptability of an approach that converts nature from a ‘common heritage’ to a bundle of property rights. Mechanisms that confer rights on nature add a further dimension to the discussion. Using examples from the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions, this article attempts to highlight the different ways in which rights can be viewed in the context of developments in conservation law and the need to appreciate the consequences from different perspectives.

This content is available to you

Colin T. Reid and Walters Nsoh

This content is available to you

Colin T. Reid and Walters Nsoh

Globally we are failing to halt the loss of biodiversity while at the same time coming to realise the many ways in which the natural world provides us with a range of very valuable ecosystem services. Traditional laws of property have given little recognition to nature and we have largely resorted to ‘command and control’ techniques when trying to regulate our impact on biodiversity (e.g. designating protected sites and species). Across environmental regulation, however, there is growing interest in and use of other, market-based techniques, such as trading and offset schemes, as a means of addressing environmental problems. Such an approach might be applied in relation to biodiversity as well. There are, however, challenges in doing so and some critics would argue that this would amount to an unacceptable commodification of nature. The remaining chapters of this book examine pervasive issues affecting the use of a market-based approach for biodiversity conservation, explore the key legal mechanisms that might be employed, consider the challenges in designing effective and efficient schemes and reflect on some of the ethical debates on their use.