Engaging absentee landholders in ecosystem service delivery in south-eastern Australia

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Journal Article
Ecosystem Services, 2019, 39
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© 2019 Elsevier B.V. As absentee landownership continues to increase in many regions of Oceania and the world, there is a growing need to better understand the behaviours and values of this landholder group. The increase in absentee landholdership can impact the provision of ecosystem services, as well as alter the rural socio-cultural fabric; the values, beliefs, knowledge types and social connections amongst landholders in rural communities. Consequently, this presents challenges to natural resource management (NRM) practitioners seeking to implement better resource management strategies across property boundaries. This case study research on the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, aims to better understand the characteristics of absentee landholders, including their motivations for holding land, their existing levels of knowledge concerning land management practices, and their views and preferences for cross-property collaborations and, in turn, explore the role they could have in the delivery of ecosystem services. Our results show that recreation and amenity relating to private cultural services are the main drivers of land acquisition and motivation for land use by absentee landholders in the region. Cross-property collaborations that absentee landholders are most interested in are related to the maintenance of supporting and regulating services, particularly through weed management and pest animal control. An important implication of these findings is that the facilitation of cross-property collaboration, by accommodating for the growing heterogeneity in values and beliefs, can become a mechanism for enhancing the delivery of public-benefit ecosystem services from absentee-held land.
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