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Using financial incentives to motivate conservation of an at-risk species on private lands

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 September 2015

Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA
*Correspondence: Michael G. Sorice Tel.: +1 5402318303


Financial incentives have become a core component of private lands conservation programmes because of their ability to motivate stewardship behaviour. Concern exists about the durability of stewardship behaviours after payments end. Payments for performance may impact farmers' current and future engagement with an incentive programme to protect an at-risk ground-nesting grassland bird. Farmer motivations for participating in the programme, as well as their intention to continue the programme if the financial incentive no longer existed, were quantified. Although farmers did not report a high level of current involvement in the programme, most reported they would continue at a similar or higher level of engagement if the payments ended. These outcomes were related to their perception that their participation was driven by their internal motivation to help rather than the desire to obtain the financial reward. The perception that their behaviour was self-directed was positively influenced by the flexibility surrounding landowners’ engagement with the programme, a feeling of competence and achievement, and a feeling of connectedness to the organization implementing the programme. The success of conservation incentive programmes over the long term can be enhanced by explicitly accounting for the needs of landowners in programme design and administration.

Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2015 

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