Land use determines interest in conservation easements among private landowners

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Protection of private lands through conservation easements has garnered recent attention from scientists and conservation practitioners. Questions remain, however, about the specific characteristics and activities driving landowners' interest in conservation easements and their willingness to consider granting them. Resolving these questions could improve prospects for private land conservation by helping land conservation organizations identify and better understand potential easement grantors. We conducted a survey of 513 private landowners in a peri-urban fringe area in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, USA. Logistic regression analysis returned seven significant predictors of landowner willingness to consider granting conservation easements. Participation in environmental organizations, recreational land-use activities, wild food gathering, and land entitlement were the strongest factors promoting interest in conservation easements. Long-term residency, male gender, and hunting or fishing, on the other hand, significantly decreased the likelihood of considering conservation easements. The findings suggest that landowners most interested in to granting conservation easements are active land users. Notably, among all the land-use activities reported, the most frequent and the most important in predicting interest in conservation easements are those undertaken for recreational and subsistence, rather than economic, purposes. This suggests that while easements might be appropriate for working lands, their role in reconciling land use with conservation requires a flexible definition of work. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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Land Use Policy

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