Landowners’ Perspectives on Coordinated, Landscape-Level Invasive Species Control: The Role of Social and Ecological Context

Abstract

To achieve biodiversity gains, landowner engagement in coordinated invasive species control programs across private lands is needed. Understanding landowners’ perspectives toward such coordinated control efforts is crucial to facilitating engagement. We conducted in person and mail surveys of 68 landowners in and adjacent to the area of a proposed invasive predator control program in New Zealand. We find that, similar to previous studies, landowners consider the potential socioeconomic and ecological benefits of invasive species control and express a strong desire to enhance native biodiversity. However, we also find that landowners take into account the complexity of the local social and ecological context in which a program will unfold in three ways: they consider (1) the level of contribution by other landowners and urban residents who are benefiting from collective control efforts; (2) the potential for the program to upset the local “ecological balance”, leading to increases in other pests; and (3) the probability that the program will be successful given the likelihood of others participating and control tactics being effective. We suggest that managers of coordinated invasive species control efforts may benefit from devoting time and resources toward addressing beliefs about social and ecological context, rather than solely providing financial subsidies and information about control tactics or the impacts of invasive species.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, particularly Dean Roughton and Campbell Leckie, for their invaluable guidance and support for this work. We also would like to thank Alison Greenaway, Pike Brown, and Nicole Ardoin for their assistance in the design of the survey. This work was funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (DGE-114747) to the first author and core funding to Crown Research Institutes from the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment.

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Correspondence to Rebecca M. Niemiec.

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Niemiec, R., Pech, R., Norbury, G. et al. Landowners’ Perspectives on Coordinated, Landscape-Level Invasive Species Control: The Role of Social and Ecological Context. Environmental Management 59, 477–489 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-016-0807-y

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Keywords

  • Invasive species
  • Collective action
  • New Zealand
  • Private lands conservation