4 suggestions for improving conservation program outcomes

According to a recent study by researchers from Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment and Point Blue Conservation Science published in the scientific journal Conservation Letters, it is necessary to find ways to sustain the benefits from voluntary conservation practices after the incentive program ends.

In the United States, federal incentive programs aimed at promoting private land conservation fall under the umbrella of the Farm Bill. Typically taking the form of cash payments, tax credits, or cost-share agreements, these incentive programs allow landowners to participate in conservation activities while maintaining ownership of their land.

Persistence, a term introduced in this context by the authors of the study, is the continuation of a conservation practice after incentives from voluntary conservation programs end.

According to lead author Ashley Dayer, assistant professor of human dimensions in Virginia Tech’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, some conservation practices like tree planting are more likely to continue providing benefits without active management by landowners, while other practices, such as conservation crop rotation, would require a more hands-on approach by landowners. In the latter cases, supporting landowners’ behavioral persistence is essential to maintaining environmental benefits.

Read more here: American Agriculturist, September 15, 2017