The Supply Side Of The Trade In Wildlife

Trade has three elements – supply, demand and the mechanism of trade. In order to address the illegal wildlife trade, all 3 elements need to be tackled. On the supply side, most money designed to combat the illegal trade flows into anti-poaching, policing and prosecutions and poverty alleviation via the sustainable-use model. Nature Needs More believes the sustainable use model is over-valued and over-generalized; as a result we have investigated and researched the current application of sustainable-use model itself and looked for possible alternatives when the sustainable-use approach doesn’t work or isn’t applicable.

In theory, the idea of supporting impoverished communities to ‘use’ wildlife in a ‘sustainable’ way to alleviate poverty, support economic and minimise human-wildlife conflict appears plausible and logical; these communities are after all the custodians of the endangered species they live with. In practice, there is very little evidence that we know how to do that, given the unwavering focus on economic growth which has triggered the rapid decline of wildlife populations since the industrial revolution. Agriculture is the single largest treat to wildlife and wildlife habitats, but trade also plays a large role for many species.

Undoing Commodification

The commodification (sometimes also called financialization) of nature is a necessary byproduct of a capitalist mode of production. It can’t be undone without undermining a basic tenet of capitalism – unlimited economic growth. Given that the unfettered growth of capitalism is no longer feasible with the decline in available net energy and the ecological limits to further growth, it is time to rethink commodification in the context of conservation.

In particular that means changing the way we relate to nature – giving animals and ecosystems rights that are equivalent to human and property rights recognised in law. These movements are underway in many countries and Nature Needs More is fully supportive of these developments. Ultimately such rights need to be enshrined in both national constitutions and international law.

In addition this also means giving local communities access rights to protected areas, on terms that are compatible with traditional use of resources without undermining the purpose of the protected areas. This is often a difficult balance to achieve, particularly in light of rapid population growth in some range countries. We support the development and negotiation of such models for access.

Basic Income Linked to Conservation

We advocate for making a Basic Income the default option for supporting poor communities in areas with high ecological value. If people don’t have to worry about food security and access to cash to pay school fees and medicine, illegal poaching, hunting and harvesting will be greatly reduced.