We investigate the commercialization of the natural world. Protecting our planet has become big business with companies promoting new environmental markets. This involves species banking, where investors buy up vast swathes of land, full of endangered species, to enable them to sell ‘nature credits’. Companies whose actions destroy the environment are now obliged to buy these credits and new financial centres have sprung up, specializing in this trade.
Many respected economists believe that the best way to protect nature is to put a price on it. But others fear that this market in nature could lead to companies having a financial interest in a species’ extinction. There are also concerns that – like the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 – the market in nature credits is bound to crash.
And there are wider issues at stake. What guarantees do we have that our natural inheritance will be protected? And should our ecological heritage be for sale?