Rights of Nature, The by David R. Boyd, ECW Press

The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World

Boyd, David R.

  • Winner of the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature

    A growing body of law around the world supports the idea that humans are not the only species with rights; and if nature has rights, then humans have responsibilities.

    “Expertly written case studies in which legalese is accessibly distilled … empowering reminders that the seemingly inevitable slide toward planetary destruction can be halted.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

    Palila v Hawaii. New Zealand’s Te Urewera Act. Sierra Club v Disney. These legal phrases hardly sound like the makings of a revolution, but beyond the headlines portending environmental catastrophes, a movement of immense import has been building — in courtrooms, legislatures, and communities across the globe. Cultures and laws are transforming to provide a powerful new approach to protecting the planet and the species with whom we share it.

    Lawyers from California to New York are fighting to gain legal rights for chimpanzees and killer whales, and lawmakers are ending the era of keeping these intelligent animals in captivity. In Hawaii and India, judges have recognized that endangered species — from birds to lions — have the legal right to exist. Around the world, more and more laws are being passed recognizing that ecosystems — rivers, forests, mountains, and more — have legally enforceable rights. And if nature has rights, then humans have responsibilities.

    In The Rights of Nature, noted environmental lawyer David Boyd tells this remarkable story, which is, at its heart, one of humans as a species finally growing up. Read this book and your world view will be altered forever.


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  • David R. Boyd is an environmental lawyer, professor, and advocate for recognition of the right to live in a healthy environment. Boyd is the award-winning author of eight books, including The Optimistic Environmentalist, and co-chaired Vancouver’s Greenest City initiative with Mayor Gregor Robertson. He lives on Pender Island, B.C. For more information, visit DavidRichardBoyd.com.

  • Published: September 2017

    ISBN: 9781770412392

    Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.25 in.

    Pages: 312


“Expertly written case studies in which legalese is accessibly distilled … are empowering reminders that the seemingly inevitable slide toward planetary destruction can be halted. Boyd persuasively shows that treating the law as an evolving instrument, combined with public-awareness campaigns and political pressure, can help curb humanity’s worst excesses.” — Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“This is a real-life legal thriller. Imagine constitutions and laws acknowledging that rivers and ecosystems have rights and cannot be owned by humans. Envision judges recognizing that sentient animals are ‘legal persons’ and should no longer be regarded as property. Leading environmental lawyer David Boyd takes us on a trip around the world to look at these stunning shifts in humanity’s relationship with nature. A pioneering work.” — David Suzuki, award-winning scientist, environmentalist, and broadcaster

“If there’s one that really stands out among the pack, it’s David Boyd’s The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World. The title says it all, and those of a greenish bent should put it under the tree for any judges and lawyer on their list. They’ll never look at flora and fauna the same way again.” — The Georgia Straight

“Boyd has given us a transformative book​. This is a must-read for students, lawyers, policy-makers and citizens of all nations. This is a profoundly important book, one that should be read by anyone who cares about creating a new, more equitable and sustainable relationship between humans and their Earth. It may one day be recognized as the Silent Spring of the twenty-first century.” — Professor Lynda Collins, Centre for Environmental Law & Global Sustainability, University of Ottawa

“At once a fascinating history and a spirited call-to-arms, The Rights of Nature provides a vital dose of optimism in this age of environmental woe. Filled with stories of crusading lawyers, pugnacious civilians, and (yes!) enlightened world leaders, David R. Boyd’s work illustrates how good intentions can change the world, but only when backed by the full clout of the law. It deserves a place on every concerned citizen’s bookshelf.” — Andrew Westoll, author of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary

“David Boyd’s new book explores one of the most ground-breaking legal ideas of our time. His stories about courageous people, remarkable laws, visionary lawsuits, and precedent setting court decisions are inspiring and welcome.” — Devon Page, Executive Director, Ecojustice

“Despite the heady subject matter, The Rights of Nature is a breeze to read. Boyd punctuates his chapters with case studies that illustrate how legal decisions have affected specific animals and ecosystems. It's in these pages that Boyd's work is especially affecting. Well-researched and written for the layman, this stirring look at the history and current state of environmental lawmaking demonstrates how powerful — and inspiring — legislation can be.” — Shelf Awareness for Readers

“Changing our laws to better reflect that laws of nature may be the only way to save the planet. David Boyd has written a brilliant call to arms to get behind a movement whose time has (finally, thankfully) come.” — Maude Barlow, author of Boiling Point

“Boyd has an infectious writing style that makes for enjoyable reading . . . I marvel at his optimism, and thank him for it . . . This book gives excellent food for thought.” – Watershed Sentinel

“This book has given me hope. . . I thank David Boyd for reassuring me that we are finally on our way.” – Green Spirit Magazine

“The rights of nature movement is needed now more than ever, especially if we hope to ensure the well-being of Earth’s species and ecosystems for this, and future, generations. David Boyd compellingly helps to chart that journey.” — Terry Tamminen, CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation