Young Forest Conservation Incentive Programs: Explaining Re-Enrollment and Post-program Persistence
Environmental conservation actions conducted by private landowners are critically important for conservation efforts worldwide. Incentive programs are used to engage landowners in voluntary conservation, but outcomes after landowners exit these programs are poorly understood. Previous research identified several pathways, including landowner motivations, cognitions, and resources, which could sustain or undermine continued conservation management behavior after incentive program participation. We tested the utility of these pathways for explaining management intentions of participants in U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) young forest habitat conservation programs in the eastern United States. We conducted a telephone survey of enrolled landowners in the programs from January to May 2017 (n = 102). We compared candidate multiple regression models to determine variables explaining landowner intentions to re-enroll in young forest programs or to persist with management without further cost-share. We found intentions to re-enroll in NRCS young forest programs were highest among landowners with high agency trust, and for whom cost-share, environmental concerns, and hunting were important motivations. Management persistence intentions were highest for group landowners (e.g., hunting clubs and nonprofits), landowners motivated by environmental concerns, and those less motivated by cost-share. Our results suggest that fostering trust through positive program experiences and recruiting landowners with supportive motivations and resources may encourage sustained young forest management. Differences in variables explaining program re-enrollment and management persistence in this study highlight the importance of considering these outcomes separately for conservation programs widely.
KeywordsConservation behavior Conservation policy Habitat management Incentives Private landowners
We thank the landowners who participated in the study, and the NRCS leadership and field offices who provided support and enthusiasm for our work. We acknowledge the contributions of Emily Heggenstaller, Renae Veasley, and Callie Bertsch to the research. We thank Marc Stern, Mark Ford, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier draft. This project was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Effects Assessment Project [https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/technical/nra/ceap/] (Award #68-7482-15-501 awarded to JL and AD). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Compliance With Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Bakermans MH, Larkin JL, Smith BW, Fearer TM, Jones BC (2011) Golden-Winged Warbler Habitat Best Management Practices in Forestlands in Maryland and Pennsylvania. American Bird Conservancy, The Plains, Virginia, p 26Google Scholar
- Baumgart-Getz A (2010) Why do Farmers Maintain Best Management Practices?. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, (Doctoral Dissertation)Google Scholar
- Butler BJ, Hewes JH, Dickinson BJ, Andrejczyk K, Butler SM, Markowski-Lindsay M (2016a) Family forest ownerships of the United States, 2013: findings from the USDA Forest Service’s National Woodland Owner Survey. J For 114(6):638–647Google Scholar
- Butler BJ, Hewes JH, Dickinson BJ, Andrejczyk K, Markowski-Lindsay M, Butler SM (2016b) USDA Forest Service, National Woodland Owner Survey 2011–2013: Documentation of Design, Implementation, and Analysis Methods. USDA Forest Service, Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-157, Northern Research Station, Newtown Square, PA, p 48Google Scholar
- Claassen R, Horowitz J, Duquette E, Ueda K (2014) Additionality in U.S. Agricultural Conservation and Regulatory Offset Programs, ERR-170, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.Google Scholar
- George D, Mallery P (2003) SPSS for Windows Step by Step: A Simple Guide and Reference. 11.0 update, 4th ed. Allyn & Bacon, BostonGoogle Scholar
- Kilgore MA, Snyder SA, Eryilmaz D, Markowski-Lindsay MA, Butler BJ, Kittredge DB, Catanzaro PF, Hewes JH, Andrejcyzk K (2015) Assessing the relationship between different forms of landowner assistance and family forest owner behaviors and intentions. J For 113(1):12–19Google Scholar
- Knoot TG, Schulte LA, Grudens-Schuck N, Rickenbach M (2009) The Changing Social Landscapes in the Midwest: a boon for forestry and bust for oak? J For 107(5):260–266Google Scholar
- North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee (2017) The State of the Birds 2017: A Farm Bill Special Report. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. 4 ppGoogle Scholar
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (2018a) Environmental Quality Incentives Program. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/eqip/. Accessed 16 September 2018
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (2018b) Golden- winged Warbler. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/plantsanimals/fishwildlife/?cid=stelprdb1046990. Accessed 16 September 2018
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (2018c) Pennsylvania Payment Schedules. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/financial/?cid = nrcseprd1328261. Accessed 16 September 2018
- Ramsdell CP, Sorice MG, Dwyer AM (2015) Using financial incentives to motivate conservation of an at-risk species on private lands. Environ Conserv 43:1–11Google Scholar
- Shifley SR, Moser WK, Nowak DJ, Miles PD, Butler BJ, Aguilar FX, DeSantis RD, Greenfield EJ (2014) Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter forest conditions and management needs in the Northern United States. Sci 60(5):914–925Google Scholar
- Silver EJ, Leahy JE, Weiskittel AR, Noblet CL, Kittredge DB (2015) An evidence- based review of timber harvesting behavior among private woodland owners. J For 113(5):490–499Google Scholar
- Skaggs RK, Kirksey RE, Harper WM (1994) Determinants and implications of post-crop land-use decisions. J Agr Resour Econ 19:299–312Google Scholar