Nature, Natural Resources and Valuation in the Anthropocene
AbstractBiodiversity, including entire habitats and ecosystems, is recognized to be of great social and economic value. Conserving biodiversity has therefore become a task of international NGO’s as well as grass-roots organisations. The ‘classical’ model of conservation has been characterised by creation of designated nature areas to allow biodiversity to recover from the effects of human activities. Typically, such areas prohibit entry other than through commercial ecotourism or necessary monitoring activities, but also often involve commodification nature. This classical conservation model has been criticized for limiting valuation of nature to its commercial worth and for being insensitive to local communities. Simultaneously, ‘new conservation’ approaches have emerged. Propagating openness of conservation approaches, ‘new conservation’ has counteracted the calls for strict measures of biodiversity protection as the only means of protecting biodiversity. In turn, the ’new conservation’ was criticised for being inadequate in protecting those species that are not instrumental for human welfare. The aim of this article is to inquire whether sustainable future for non-humans can be achieved based on commodification of nature and/or upon open approaches to conservation. It is argued that while economic development does not necessarily lead to greater environmental protection, strict regulation combined with economic interests can be effective. Thus, economic approaches by mainstream conservation institutions cannot be easily dismissed. However, ‘new conservation’ can also be useful in opening up alternatives, such as care-based and spiritual approaches to valuation of nature. Complementary to market-based approaches to conservation, alternative ontologies of the human development as empathic beings embedded in intimate ethical relations with non-humans are proposed.