Locating financial incentives among diverse motivations for long-term private land conservation

Date: 01, May, 2017
Author(s):   Selinske, M.J., Cooke, B., Torabi, N., Hardy, M.J., Knight, A.T., Bekessy, S.A.
Publisher: Ecology and Society

A variety of policy instruments are used to promote the conservation of biodiversity on private land. These instruments are often employed in unison to encourage land stewardship beneficial for biodiversity across a broad range of program types, but questions remain about which instruments are the appropriate tools when seeking long-term change to land-management practice. Drawing on three case studies, two in Australia and one in South Africa, spanning various program types—a biodiverse carbon planting scheme, a covenanting program, and a voluntary stewardship program—we investigate the importance of financial incentives and other mechanisms from the landholder’s perspective. From participant interviews we find that landholders have preconceived notions of stewardship ethics. Motivations to enroll into a private land conservation program are not necessarily what drives ongoing participation, and continued delivery of multiple mechanisms will likely ensure long-term landholder engagement. Financial incentives are beneficial in lowering uptake costs to landholders but building landholder capacity, management assistance, linking participants to a network of conservation landholders, and recognition of conservation efforts may be more successful in fostering long-term biodiversity stewardship. Furthermore, we argue that diverse, multiple instrument approaches are needed to provide the flexibility required for dynamic, adaptive policy responses. We raise a number of key considerations for conservation organizations regarding the appropriate mix of financial and nonfinancial components of their programs to address long-term conservation objectives.