Private land conservation organisations focus on communicating environmental benefits rather than social benefits and benefits to landholder themselves.
Private land is an important part of biodiversity conservation, yet only a small proportion of landholders participate in private land conservation (PLC). Therefore, convincing landholders why they should participate in PLC is an important part of getting more landholders involved.
To begin to do this, the researchers examined how the PLC sector currently frame their messages about conservation participation. To do this, they used a ‘value orientation’ framework – value orientation refers to the way that people weigh different interests when making decisions.
By analysing how the benefits of PLC are currently framed in communications to prospective participants, some insight could be gained about the nature of the audience that is likely to be engaged. The research involved the analysis of the website content from 20 of the most prominent Australian PLC schemes, and categorised the stated benefits as either benefits to the landholder, to society, or to the environment.
Results showed a heavy reliance on environmentally-themed messages, suggesting that the audience most likely engaged by the PLC sector is largely altruistic, and already conservation aware. This means that the messages are mostly likely to appeal to those landholders who are already involved in conservation, rather than appealing to potential ‘new recruits’. This bias was even greater for market-based schemes, which in theory should be squarely aimed at production-focussed landholders and those not already involved in conservation.
This research highlights the value in thinking strategically about the key audience of a conservation message, and framing the message to best engage that audience.
Kusmanoff, A. M., Fidler, F., Hardy, M., Maffey, G., Raymond, C., Reed, M. S., Fitzsimons, J., & Bekessy, S. (2016) Framing the Private Land Conservation Conversation: Strategic framing of the benefits of conservation participation could increase landholder engagement. Environmental Science and Policy. 61, 124 – 128.