Privatisation of Biodiversity: Who Can Sell Ecosystem Services?

25(1) Environmental Law and Management 12-20

9 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2013

See all articles by Walters Nsoh

Walters Nsoh

Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, UK

Colin Reid

University of Dundee - Dundee Law School

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

A payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme is a mechanism whereby payments are provided in exchange for the management of land to maintain or enhance the health of the ecosystem, thereby providing benefits for the public or specific beneficiaries, e.g. carbon storage or control of water resources. Such payments can take the form of flat-rate subsidies or individually negotiated contracts to ensure that greater effectiveness can be achieved. This mechanism has been used in many parts of the world with varying degrees of success and is now increasingly being considered in the United Kingdom (UK) as one way of conserving biodiversity. There are benefits to this approach, but also challenges that must be faced when applying this mechanism. The main aim of this article is to present some of the challenges to be met if the use of PES is to be expanded. Specifically, this article examines whether the benefits of PES schemes should accrue to the owner or occupier of land, taking into account the endless variety of tenancy agreements and other interests in land, including the particular problems of common land in England and Wales and crofting in Scotland. By analysing the literature on the schemes in operation abroad and the UK examples and how they address these property rights issues it is possible to provide the basis for the design choices to be made if PES schemes are to play a bigger role in UK conservation law. Given the need to secure services over a prolonged period if they are to deliver real benefits, the article argues for the need to devise appropriate legal safeguards that reflect the different ownership and occupation interests, that can guarantee the continuing provision of services despite changes in ownership and occupation, but that are flexible enough to cope with the dynamic nature of both the environment and our demands on it.

Suggested Citation

Nsoh, Walters and Reid, Colin, Privatisation of Biodiversity: Who Can Sell Ecosystem Services? (2013). 25(1) Environmental Law and Management 12-20, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2304817

Walters Nsoh (Contact Author)

Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, UK ( email )

Edgbaston
Birmingham, AL B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Colin Reid

University of Dundee - Dundee Law School ( email )

Nethergate
Dundee, Scotland DD1 4HN
United Kingdom

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