The idea of granting legal standing to natural entities is not a new one. In the case that spurred this article, a town in Maine passed an ordinance that grants rights to "natural communities and ecosystems" in order to try to protect their aquifers from taking by the Nestle corporation (which bottles the water under the Poland Spring label). What's interesting is that rights are granted to natural, non-human entities in order to protect them from another non-human entity, a corporation.
So the question that has to be raised is whether granting rights to ecosystems will solve the problem of mis-use by corporations. History would suggest that, instead, corporations (who can pay for very, very clever lawyers) are likely to find ways of subverting ordinances or even using them to their advantage. The real problem is that corporations are not accountable to all the moral considerations that human communities believe are worth accounting for.
I've been reading about cases of indigenous populations who have been displaced directly or indirectly by conservation projects. These cases create moral dilemmas for environmentalists. Preserving ecosystems and species is a valuable goal, but at what human cost? A legal framework that gives rights to ecosystems could be used to justify protected areas that displace humans. It would, in some sense, be a simple solution that would settle the problem. But it would settle it in a way that is too easy because it would not work through the moral balancing of the needs of nature vs. the needs of humans.