The idea of profiting from biodiversity conservation may seem strange, but this is in fact an essential condition for mobilizing private investment in conservation. Without profit, business dies and markets stagnate, notes a major new study, Building Biodiversity Business, which has been underwritten by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and Shell International. From forestry and fisheries to bioprospecting and ecotourism, biodiversity conservation can be profitable, the 164-page study suggests. It identifies business opportunities and proposals of concern to exporters, with particular emphasis on upcoming markets. The use of legally mandated biodiversity offsets is growing, and examples can be found in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland and the US. The Environmental Liability Directive passed by the European Commission in 2004 could lead to similar arrangements throughout Europe. In addition to mandatory offsets, there is growing interest in the potential of voluntary offsets.
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