The attitudes and behaviours of private landholders toward the conservation of a highly transformed and critically endangered habitat, Overberg Coastal Renosterveld (OCR) (a grassy shrubland of the Cape Floral Region, South Africa) are described. Personal, semistructured interviews were conducted with landholders, representing 40 properties in the Overberg region, on topics such as management and utilisation of OCR, the depth of their knowledge of its conservation importance, what they perceive its value to be, and the extent of their willingness to conserve it. General attitudes toward conservation incentives and provincial conservation authorities were also investigated. Farmers more willing to conserve were younger, did not necessarily have a better education, and owned larger farms (>500 ha) with a greater amount of remnant renosterveld (>300 ha) than those less willing to conserve. Attitudes toward the OCR were largely negative, related to associated problem plants and animals and the fact that it is believed not to be economically advantageous to retain it. However, farmers are of the opinion that provision of incentives and increased extension support will provide practical positive inducements for conservation. Landholder education is paramount to prevent further transformation of critically endangered habitats. The success of private-conservation programs depends on the attitudes of landowners toward (1) the particular habitat or species to be conserved (which can vary depending on the type of land use practised and the associated benefits and disadvantages of that habitat type); (2) the conservation agency or extension officers responsible for that area; and (3) willingness of landowners to participate in a conservation program, which is influenced by landowner age, farm size, and the amount of natural habitat left to conserve.
Environmental Management – Springer Journals
Published: May 24, 2007
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