Pricing Nature

There is a long history of putting a price on parts of nature. The centuries-old corporate rush for prized timber and land has led to the loss of forests on a large scale and the violation of communities’ rights. So-called "ecosystem services," such as the role that forests play in ecosystems, are a new way of monetizing and trading in nature. The result is greater dispossession of forest-dependent communities and ongoing corporate destruction of community territories.

Australian company Base Resources was allowed to destroy the Mikea Forest as long as it established an offset project, which, in turn, would impose far-reaching restrictions on communities to access their land and forests.

The government claims that small-scale agriculture is responsible for deforestation. But this claim ignores government policies that drive land-use changes and destructive markets as well as the exclusion of indigenous peoples through the creation of reserves.

REDD+ has shown to be a big failure for the climate, the forests and forest peoples, but many international agencies and governments continue to support it. This article takes a look at its inability to halt deforestation and the fundamental flaws of its main initiatives.

Blue Carbon (or Blue REDD+) appeared as a new carbon offset scheme between emissions and carbon absorption in coastal territories. However, organizations in Indonesia warn that the initiative is a strategy to change the coastal and marine territories into tradable assets .

BIOFUND, a conservation fund to finance protected areas in Mozambique—with support from the World Bank, international cooperation and conservation NGOs—intends to use biodiversity offsets to obtain resources and speculate in financial markets.

Despite the government of Brazil announcing cutbacks to action against deforestation, the Green Climate Fund awarded US$ 96 million for alleged emission reductions in the Brazilian Amazon. These avoided emissions in part exist only on paper.

A long cycle of state repression in India now sees new amendments to the colonial Indian Forest Act which would not only make forest bureaucracy more powerful than ever, but would also de facto put an end to the landmark Forest Rights Act.

India’s programme to compensate for the destruction of forests for development projects is routinely setting up monoculture tree plantations on community commons. Women, who are mostly affected, are at the centre of its resistance.