Does stewardship program participation influence Canadian farmer engagement in biodiversity-friendly farming practices?

Abstract

Biodiversity and farming are inextricably linked. Naturally occurring biodiversity supports the ecosystem services that are indispensable for agricultural production. Although the intensification of farming during the twentieth century has resulted in increased yields, this has often been at the expense of biodiversity. At present, farm biodiversity conservation efforts are largely confined to voluntary programs. This research project examined the relationship between pro-biodiversity attitudes, participation in a voluntary stewardship program, and engagement in biodiversity-friendly farming activities among farmers in Nova Scotia, Canada. This investigation was completed through a quantitative survey measuring respondents’ attitudes toward, knowledge of, and management of biodiversity. Significant links were found between program participation and increased engagement in two out of six biodiversity-friendly activities the program promotes: (1) modified harvest, such as changes to mowing equipment, timing, pattern or height to reduce animal mortality; and (2) riparian management, such as buffers and fencing. Engagement in other practices could not be traced to program participation. Pro-biodiversity attitudes, however, were linked to some of these other activities, but not linked to the increased uptake of riparian management or modified harvest. The instruction given to participants about riparian and harvest activities was much more detailed and site-specific than instructions for the activities that were linked to pro-biodiversity attitude, however. This suggests that the quantity and quality of instruction provided to stewardship program participants may have an impact on their uptake of conservation activities.

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Correspondence to Kate Goodale.

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Communicated by Dirk Sven Schmeller.

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Goodale, K., Yoshida, Y., Beazley, K. et al. Does stewardship program participation influence Canadian farmer engagement in biodiversity-friendly farming practices?. Biodivers Conserv 24, 1487–1506 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-015-0872-1

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Keywords

  • Agriculture agroecosystem
  • Environmental values
  • Attitude
  • Farmer behaviour
  • Voluntary adoption