Social incentives good for on-farm conservation in the north

20 January 2016

Research has found social incentives could be a powerful way of promoting on farm-conservation methods in northern Australia.

Professor Natalie Stoeckl, from James Cook University, has been investigating ways of improving the efficiency of biodiversity investments in Northern Australia since 2012. The results of the research are detailed in a technical report, found here.

“The Australian government has made significant investments into a range of programmes designed to encourage land managers to protect and enhance the country’s natural resources,” Professor Stoeckl said.

“Financial incentives are often offered through these programs as a way of compensating for expected costs or losses to productivity.”

One hundred and thirty seven property managers and owners from across North Queensland and in the Daly River Catchment (Northern Territory) answered questions about attitudes, land management practices, costs, revenues and production as part of the research.

The results found relationships with family and friends were the single most important contributor to land managers’ quality of life, rather than a significant link between profits and life satisfaction.

“The research suggests that on-farm conservation programs that recognise the importance of family, friends and community (funding local events and networking groups, publicly recognising the conservation efforts of individuals) may gain greater support from property managers than those that focus only on environmental or financial factors. The low-cost of such strategies also makes them an efficient option,” Professor Stoeckl said.

The research also found that many conservation activities could also have positive outcomes for agricultural productivity.  Overall, conserving biodiversity did not have negative impacts on agriculture.  This is a timely finding, given the interest in economically developing the north.

You can read more about this project here.

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