From 5-7 November 2018, the ELCN will organise a Workshop on Incentives for Private Land Conservation in Madrid. Ignasi Puig (ENT) will have a presentation on Payment for environmental services and experiences from Catalonia.
The workshop will tackle the question: Why do landowners conserve their land? The motivations of landowners to conserve their property can be manifold, ranging from emotional place attachment to personal history, general environmental ethics and values, the feeling of social responsibility, and financial considerations (environmental regulation can be seen as part of the latter, as infringements may lead to financial penalties and cancelling of subsidies).
Interestingly, studies have shown that financial motivations often rank at the bottom of the list of reasons for private land conservation. Nevertheless, financial incentives play an important role in the framework of this study, as they can be easily influenced through public policy. A landowner’s decision whether or not to conserve natural features on her or his land can also be influenced by negative expectations about the legal consequences such activities can bring. In some cases, by triggering automatic protection of a habitat or species’ occurrence and ensuing legal restrictions of land use practices when the conservation work undertaken by the landowner has been successful and a protected species or habitat occurs, conservation legislation can disincentivise voluntary conservation measures. In this sense, the workshop will also look at the reasons keeping landowners from conserving nature on their land. The workshop will explore the potential of conservation organisation and public authorities to create positive incentives for motivating private landowners to engage in nature conservation on their land. It will examine and compare various tools for creating such incentives: fiscal tools that reward conservation on private land (e.g. taxes, subsidies), technical/structural incentives (e.g. regional branding and marketing, improved resource management, access to volunteers), and legal incentives (planning reliability, exemption from environmental liability, temporary waiver of species protection). It will present best-practice examples of incentivising private land conservation, but will also address areas of conflict (e.g. national subsidies for conservation and state-aid).
In order to expand and improve private land conservation, a better understanding of the underlying motivations for private landowners to engage in conservation is essential. The workshop will help practitioners exchange their knowledge and experience of these motivations and give a voice to private landowners to explain what makes them conserve land and what keeps them from doing so.
Secondly, the workshop has the objective to showcase and discuss tools that have been tested and proven to incentivise private land conservation. The transferability of these tools will be discussed, and organisational and political prerequisites for doing so will be identified.