Examining the direct and indirect effects of environmental change and place attachment on land management decisions in the Hill Country of Texas, USA
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Urbanization has increasingly encroached upon many rural landscapes. The increased demand for development, and associated increase in land prices and property taxes has forced many rural landowners to subdivide or sell their property and led to adverse impacts on important ecosystem functions supported by rural landscapes. However, there has been limited research on how, in the face of such changes, landowners' attachment to their property may affect their intention to retain their property, and effort invested to sustain important ecosystem features and enhance their land management capacity. Our study examined how landowners' evaluation of change interacted with three dimensions of place attachment (place functions/features, place emotion/identity, and social bonding) to influence their intention to retain their rural property and engage in property-protective behaviors. The study was conducted with a sample of landowners whose properties in the Texas Hill Country were impacted by urbanization from the nearby metropolitan area. Model testing was conducted based on latent variable scores. The results revealed that evaluation of urbanization-related change primarily interacted with respondents' place emotion/identity to influence their intention to retain their property. Additionally, evaluation of change and place attachment also directly influenced intention and behaviors pertaining to respondents' property. Our research suggests the need to focus on landowners' attachment to their rural property as a mechanism for promoting ecologically sound land management. Moreover, the needs to understand how landowners perceive urbanization, inform them of potential impacts, and provide resources to enhance their environmental skills to cope with such changes are also recommended. 2011 Elsevier B.V.