This study investigates the practical and financial implications of alternative strategies for meeting explicit conservation goals on the Agulhas Plain, South Africa. This is an area of exceptional biodiversity increasingly threatened by alien plant infestation, urbanisation, and agricultural expansion. In addition to traditional on-reserve protection, we identify two types of property-rights agreements (conservation easements and management agreements) and two types of financial incentives (land management assistance and tax relief) as appropriate for encouraging off-reserve conservation on targeted lands in the area. Specifically, we suggest actions to offset the costs facing landowners under new pieces of legislation, such as alien-clearing requirements and a property tax. After refining an existing GIS database of cadastral units targeted for conservation, we assigned on- or off-reserve conservation status to properties on the basis of a simple decision system, which took the irreplaceability of the area into account. Three implementation scenarios were designed: an entirely ‘on-reserve’ approach, a mixed on- and off-reserve approach, and the mixed approach in conjunction with financial incentives. The conservation costs, to both the public and private sector (including expanded obligations from new legislation), were first modelled and then analysed in a Geographic Information System. We found that a traditional on-reserve approach would cost the state about R240M in acquisition costs, whereas both mixed approaches, using the decision rules developed in this study, would involve leaving 40% of targeted areas in private hands, saving the state 80% in acquisition costs. Of the subsequent conservation costs, which total R401M (present value @ 6% discount rate; Scenario 1), most are alien clearing costs. Since landowners are now compelled to put up these costs, the state could make further savings (44–51%) under a mixed management scenario. Using Property Rate relief as an additional financial incentive is relatively efficient in that it may save targeted private landowners 32% in Property Rates, at a cost of 5.5% of expected tax revenue to the state. Given the prohibitive costs, realising conservation goals in the Agulhas Plain will probably depend upon the establishment of institutions, mechanisms, and incentives for private participation in conservation.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 2003
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