Rethinking Green Consumerism; Endangered Earth; Exclusive Online Issues; by Jared Hardner and Richard Rice; 5 Page(s)
Over the past decade, one popular tropical conservation effort has been to encourage consumers to pay more for products that are cultivated or harvested in ecologically sensitive ways. Myriad international development projects have promoted these so-called sustainable practices in forests and farms around the world. Ordinary citizens in the U.S. and Europe participate by choosing to buy timber, coffee and other agricultural goods that are certified as having met such special standards during production. One of the best known of these certified, or "green," products is shade-grown coffee beans, which are cultivated in the shady forest understory rather than in sunny fields where all the trees have been cut down.
Efforts to develop green products deserve support and praise. But in the context of the global economy, sustainable agriculture and consumer actions alone will not be enough to conserve the plants and animals that are most threatened by deforestation. We believe that a bold new approach, which we call conservation concessions, provides a potentially powerful way to expand the green market from its present dependence on products to the broader notion of green services - the opportunity to purchase biodiversity preservation directly.