By Dr Sian Sullivan
The author is a Lecturer in Environment and Development, at Birkbeck College, London. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is an edited version of a paper presented in The Land Winter 2008/09 (www.tlio.org.uk/The Land).
Nature is being redefined as a capitalist commodity to be traded and speculated on in the international market. The latest thinking is pushing for global enclosures of local commons that will lead to profound transformations of traditional and cultural values.
Ecosystem services are provided by people with ecosystems to people who no longer have one, and who need one. For example, if your forest, or your peat bog is absorbing carbon, it is providing a service to other people who are producing excessive C02 and need something, somewhere to absorb it. Other ecosystem services include climate regulation, maintenance of biodiversity, water conservation and supply, and the preservation of aesthetic, cultural and spiritual values. The emerging view is that these services should be quantified and priced, creating ecosystem service markets in which people receiving such services start to pay for them. For example, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), together with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in its document Developing International Payments for Ecosystem Services, encourages the creation of market mechanisms to enable financial investment to flow from areas requiring ecosystems services, to areas providing these services....