Landholders in the Daly River catchment region are being asked what types of conservation measures are needed in the area.
“We want to understand what types of support and incentives are needed to develop effective conservation schemes for landholders to undertake conservation actions on their own land,” the lead researcher Vanessa Adams from James Cook University said today.
The research team is mailing out a survey to the landholders this week to discover what management actions landholders currently undertake and what their preferences are for future conservation schemes, such as conservation covenants and conservation management agreements.
Ms Adams, who will be visiting the area in September to conduct face-to-face interviews, said the survey would establish the preferences the landholders have for conservation actions on their land, and in particular the payment schemes needed to support these actions.
“It will give people who live in and around the Daly River Catchment a say in the future management of their region,” she said. “They will be able to advise on what types of conservation programs are most effective in the region, and what types of support will be needed to facilitate those programs.”
Ms Adams said that because of government requirements such as the clearing moratorium in the Daly area as well as the land clearing cap, her earlier conversations with landholders suggested that they believed that additional conservation initiatives were not needed.
“However, aside from clearing, other threats such as changing climate and fire regimes, as well as increased invasive weeds and feral animals pose a large threat to native vegetation and are causing losses of native vegetation and animals,” Ms Adams said.
“As part of the survey process, we hope to not only understand landholder preferences and current attitudes towards conservation, but also to convey to them that in order to maintain healthy native systems, their aid is necessary to combat these threats.
“In a region like the Daly where properties are very large and threats to native vegetation may be difficult to mitigate through government actions alone, it is very important to understand how to engage and support local landholders in conservation actions,” Ms Adams said.
“While we know a bit about conservation features of concern in the region as well as threats from fire and weeds, we need to find out what types of actions landholders already undertake or are willing to undertake.
“For example, a landholder may currently spend one day a month controlling weedy grasses such as Mission Grass. However, this might come at a substantial cost that prohibits him from undertaking other actions such as fencing off riparian zones or rainforest patches on his land.
“Perhaps he is willing to undertake these actions given adequate financial incentives. These are the kinds of questions we are trying to answer,” Ms Adams said.
The survey will take about 20 minutes to complete and requests basic demographic information from household members, such as age and occupation, and information on their current land management practices and interests in other conservation schemes.
The James Cook University team hopes that the results of this survey, which will be available in early 2010, will increase the effectiveness of conservation actions in the Daly while also ensuring that landholders are given the incentives they need.
Landholders who are willing to participate in the follow-up interviews in September, or who wish to know more about the project, can contact Ms Adams.
Vanessa Adams, CoECRS and JCU, +61 7 47816024 or +61 0406592198 Vanessa.Adams@jcu.edu.au.
Jim O’Brien, James Cook University Media Office, +61 7 4781 4822 or +61 0418 892449