Landowner perceptions of payments for nature conservation on private land
Yasue, M and Kirkpatrick, JB and Davison, A and Gilfedder, L, Landowner perceptions of payments for nature conservation on private land, Environmental Management, 64 pp. 287-302. ISSN 0364-152X (2019) [Refereed Article]
Private land conservation (PLC) programs often provide financial incentives to motivate and enable landowners to engage in conservation. However, few studies have explored the psychological and management impacts of these incentives. We interviewed 50 landowners in Tasmania, Australia who were engaged in incentivised or nonincentivised PLC programs. Landowners who received incentives were paid to either protect private land through creating a conservation covenant (a legal deed restricting land uses) or engage in a specific stewardship activity (e.g., planting trees). Most landowners who received payments to create covenants stated that they would not have done so without the payment. However, landowners, including those who have purchased or inherited covenanted properties, also indicated that neither these payments, nor the conservation covenant made any significant impact on how they managed the land. Covenant incentives did not improve attitudes towards conservation or conservationists. In contrast, most landowners receiving stewardship payments reported that these payments enabled the conservation actions they valued, helped build relationships and promoted favorable attitudes towards conservation. Contextual factors that influenced the impact of financial incentives on conservation action included the quality of relationship between landowners and stewardship officers, availability of private funds for conservation, and multigenerational aspirations. Our research identifies some of the intended and unintended impacts of financial incentives and describes how a fuller understanding of the motivations, identities, and aspirations of landowners may lead to the design of more socially resilient and ecologically effective PLC programs.