Are incentive programs working? Landowner attitudes to ecological restoration of agricultural landscapes Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Private property accounts for much of the planet's arable land, and most of this has been cleared for agricultural production. Agricultural areas retain only fragments of their original vegetation and this has been detrimental to many native plant and animal species. Habitat restoration and revegetation may be able to reconnect and enlarge existing remnant areas in agricultural landscapes and, thereby, enhance native plant and animal communities. However, conservation initiatives will be successful only if landowners actively participate in restoration actions. This study used four hundred postal questionnaires to assess the degree to which landowners in two regions of south-eastern Australia adopt restoration activities, their opinions regarding remnant and revegetated land and their management actions in these areas. One hundred and seventy nine completed questionnaires were received. Three quarters of respondents had undertaken restoration on their property or were planning to revegetate in the future. Landcare members were most likely to have previously revegetated and future revegetation intentions were best predicted by previous restoration activities and a primary income source that was off-farm. Landowners were more likely to manage restored and remnant areas if they perceived threats such as weeds, pest animals and fire risk would be detrimental to their property, than to enhance environmental outcomes. These results indicate that landowners are interested in restoring natural areas, but without greater assistance to restore ground layers and manage perceived threats posed by fire and invasive plants and animals, restoration actions will not have their desired biodiversity benefits.

publication date

  • 2013