Informing conservation policy design through an examination of landholder preferences

A case study of scattered tree conservation in Australia

Jacki Schirmer, Stephen Dovers, Helena Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Choosing effective policy instruments to achieve conservation goals has many challenges. We explore the challenge of instrument choice in the context of landscape-scale conservation on private land, where the challenge is to select instruments that are able to influence the management practices of large numbers of landholders with diverse values, beliefs and management priorities. We report on a landholder survey and workshop undertaken as part of a study focused on reversing scattered tree decline on private grazing land in Australia. We examined eight policy instruments against stated selection criteria in the context of four land management practices with potential to reverse tree decline: rotational grazing, tree planting, direct seeding of tree species, and reduced chemical fertilisers. Two of the four management practices (rotational grazing and tree planting) received much stronger support. Respondents considered all eight policy instruments more effective for supporting their uptake of these two practices compared to less preferred practices. Landholders preferred policy instruments providing short-term financial or material support, compared to longer-term instruments such as legal regulations or stewardship programs. The nature of the management practice on the production-conservation continuum significantly influenced landholder preferences for policy instruments: different instruments were preferred for conservation-oriented practices versus production-oriented practices. Our results support the conclusion that reversing scattered tree decline at the landscape-scale is best achieved by providing landholders with flexibility through offering multiple options in terms of both policy instruments and management practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-63
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


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