Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Environmental and Energy Law, nature conservation law, biodiversity, private rights, market devices, alternative, direct ‘command and control’ regulation


The Privatisation of Biodiversity? New Approaches to Conservation Law, written by Colin T Reid and Walters Nsoh, is a recently published addition to the Edward Elgar book series New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law. The book explores how “private rights and market devices” may serve as an alternative to “direct ‘command and control’ regulation”, and so ensure that the use of natural resources remains within ecological limits, while preventing the loss of habitat, habitat degradation, and species extinctions. A diverse range of mechanisms are considered under the “privatisation” heading, with “an emphasis on private law frameworks” that enable private initiatives, choices, and funding, rather than viewing conservation as an enterprise predominantly “controlled and directed by public authorities”. The book consists of nine chapters. The Introduction defines key concepts such as biodiversity, ecosystem services, nature conservation law, market-based instruments, and commodification. Defining key concepts relating to the privatization of biodiversity is crucial for the readability of this book and its relevance to a wider audience. The legal tools covered in the latter chapters are very technical, but so are the non-legal concepts underpinning the legal structures. The authors are to be commended for clearly and painstakingly laying out foundational concepts. However, despite these efforts, it is surprising, at least to a Canadian reviewer, that almost no attention is given to how Indigenous perspectives might inform these foundational concepts. The challenges that might arise if the integration of Indigenous knowledge, laws, and institutions were taken seriously, as well as the importance of doing so, will be considered briefly towards the end of this review.