Investing in Nature

“A new first-ever survey of conservation impact investing reveals a market of approximately $23 billion across just the last five years, and finds that investments in this space are expected to more than triple over the next five years (2014-2018). However, the report also finds that a substantial amount of potential private capital has not been deployed, demonstrating a need for a significant increase in the number of risk-adjusted investment opportunities.
Impact investment is one way to address the critical global deficit in conservation funding. It has been estimated that about $300 billion is needed annually to meet the world’s conservation challenges, according to a Global Canopy Programme report. Yet, current levels of investment, mainly from governments, multilateral agencies and philanthropic sources, total only about $50 billion.
“The survey shows that the approximately $23 billion committed to conservation impact investments from 2009-2013 fell into three main categories:
“Water quantity and quality conservation, including investments in watershed protection, water conservation and storm water management, and trading in credits related to watershed management.
“Sustainable food and fiber production, including investments in sustainable agriculture, timber production, aquaculture, and wild-caught fisheries.
“Habitat conservation, including investments in the protection of shorelines to reduce coastal erosion, projects to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), land easements, and mitigation banking” Source: www.naturevesttnc.org.

GR:  Redirecting investments from say coal to sustainable forestry sounds like the solution to all the environmental problems we attribute to misguided and shortsighted business practices.  In a free market, we expect investments to shift as profit opportunities increase. With every day now, we strengthen the need to preserve diminishing resources, and thus there is more opportunity for profits in resource-preservation.  However, the shift of investments to nature will not solve our environmental problems. Leopold pointed out the flaw in the idea when he said that most wildlife species have no definable economic value.  You see, “sustainable” does not mean preservation of natural ecosystem processes and natural biodiversity.  It means that the methods used to manage and harvest the resources will not diminish their productivity.  For example, trees require soil and water, so sustainable forestry protects soils and watersheds. However, trees do not require butterflies or porcupines, so timber farmers use pesticides to protect trees from insects, and they use traps and poison to dispose of larger forest animals.  And so on.