What If the Black Forest Owned Itself? A Constitutional Property Law Perspective on Rights of Nature

Björn Hoops*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

6 Citaten (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Ownership has been a key tool in the exploitation of nature for centuries. However, ownership could also shield natural entities from extraction and pollution if it were vested in them, rather than in humans or corporations. Through a case study of German constitutional property law, this article examines the normative content of this constitutional right. It argues that in owning themselves, natural entities would have numerous tools to fend off human interference with their self-determination. Constitutional property law would require any harmful activity affecting the natural entity to be based upon legislation and necessary to achieve a public purpose. The natural entity would enjoy broader access to justice. Courts would also often award appropriate remedies; where the natural entity would be awarded only compensation, this would be unsatisfactory because money cannot replace nature. The article finds that constitutional property law offers the potential for further protection from human interference, which has not been realized because of anthropocentric value judgments prevalent in German legal doctrine. Ecocentric approaches to ownership and invalidity as a standard remedy would play an important role in unlocking the full potential of ownership for environmental protection.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)475-500
Aantal pagina's26
TijdschriftTransnational Environmental Law
Nummer van het tijdschrift3
Vroegere onlinedatum20-sep.-2022
StatusPublished - 2022

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