The rising interest in new forms of philanthropy, particularly philanthrocapitalism, has led scholars to consider how biodiversity conservation is affected by these new ways of thinking about and doing philanthropy. The incorporation of capitalist discourse, practices, and motives within philanthrocapitalism have been analysed as part of wider moves towards neoliberal forms of conservation in which saving biodiversity is increasingly done using market mechanisms, and justified using market discourses. These analyses consider what philanthrocapitalism means for endangered biodiversity; what species are saved, how, and where; and what it means for social justice and people living near this biodiversity. Yet so far, these questions have not been examined empirically. This chapter examines philanthrocapitalism's role in the rise of privately owned nature reserves in southern Chile. In the last two decades such reserves, some totalling more than 300,000 hectares, have emerged as a major land use in Chilean Patagonia. Drawing on 40 interviews with owners and managers of private nature reserves, as well as other actors, this chapter considers how the discourses and practices of these private reserves reflect philanthrocapitalist ideas. Such an empirical analysis has profound implications for debates on the role of philanthropy and the private sector in biodiversity conservation worldwide.
Discussions of philanthrocapitalism have expanded rapidly in recent years, both within and outside of academia (see Edwards in Chapter 2). This new approach is characterised by a remarkable enthusiasm for integrating capitalism into philanthropy as a part of wider processes of neoliberalism. Various analyses have considered the origins, potential, and limitations of philanthrocapitalism, and its contribution to broader processes of capital accumulation and social change (Schervish, 2003; Bishop and Green, 2008; Edwards, 2008; Lorenzi and Hilton, 2011; Ramdas, 2011; Rogers, 2011; Holmes, 2012). Discussions on philanthrocapitalism have focused on issues such as poverty alleviation, health and education rather than environmental issues. At the same time, analyses of conservation and environmentalism have not adequately explored ideas of philanthropy (Holmes, 2012). The lack of mutual engagement is puzzling as recent years have also seen the rise of neoliberal forms of conservation, which demonstrate remarkable enthusiasm for integrating capitalism into conserving biodiversity.