Changing landowners, changing ecosystem? Land-ownership motivations as drivers of land management practices
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Motivations for owning rural land are shifting from an agricultural-production orientation to a preference for natural and cultural amenities. Resultant changes in land management have significant implications for the type and distribution of landscape-level disturbances that affect the delivery of ecosystem services. We examined the relationship between motivations for owning land and the implementation of conservation land management practices by landowners in the Southern Great Plains of the United States. Using a mail survey, we classified landowners into three groups: agricultural production, multiple-objective, and lifestyle-oriented. Cross tabulations of landowner group with past, current, and future use of 12 different land management practices (related to prescribed grazing, vegetation management, restoration, and water management) found that lifestyle-oriented landowners were overall less likely to adopt these practices. To the degree that the cultural landscape of rural lands transitions from production-oriented to lifestyle-oriented landowners, the ecological landscape and the associated flow of ecosystem services will likely change. This poses new challenges to natural resource managers regarding education, outreach, and policy; however, a better understanding about the net ecological consequences of lower rates of adoption of conservation management practices requires consideration of the ecological tradeoffs associated with the changing resource dependency of rural landowners.
author list (cited authors)
Sorice, M. G., Kreuter, U. P., Wilcox, B. P., & Fox, W. E.