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Understanding approaches for conserving biodiversity and rewilding on privately owned land

Stewart, Claire Louise (2023) Understanding approaches for conserving biodiversity and rewilding on privately owned land. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.102736) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:102736)

Language: English

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Increased efforts to conserve nature are needed to stem the biodiversity crisis and avoid the collapse of the planetary support systems that sustain life on Earth. Protected areas will remain central to these efforts, as reflected by Target 3 of the Convention on Biological Diversity's new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030. However, since the creation of new state-managed protected areas is constrained by high costs, insufficient government budgets, and a lack of support from local communities, global responses are focused on how other area-based and ecosystem-based conservation approaches can help achieve the conservation targets set out in the new framework. With growing interest in how these approaches can be implemented on privately owned land to complement existing protected area networks, it is important to understand what influences participation in private land conservation programmes and approaches, as well as the perceptions of key stakeholders towards new ecosystem-based approaches such as rewilding. In this thesis, I focus on these issues to improve our understanding of conservation on privately owned land.

In Chapter 2, I review the factors that influence participation in the various private land conservation programmes and approaches that exist globally, focusing on the motivations and barriers, as well as the landowner and land characteristics that influence participation. I show that financial incentives and a desire to support nature conservation are the most frequently identified motivations, that high costs and negative economic impacts of participation are the most frequently identified barriers, and that no landowner or land characteristics consistently determine participation. In Chapter 3, I use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to explore land-manager perceptions towards the overall concept of rewilding, as well as perceptions and levels of support for different activities related to rewilding. I highlight that most land-managers perceive rewilding to mean the cessation of management, which underpins their concerns regarding their livelihoods and identity, and broader concerns related to food production and security. I also show that land-managers generally only support rewilding on low-quality agricultural land, and are most supportive of rewilding activities that they are already familiar with and can actively engage with. In Chapter 4, I use Q-methodology to investigate land-manager perspectives towards rewilding, identifying three distinct shared perspectives and demonstrating that land-manager views towards rewilding are not uniform.

Collectively, my research provides a valuable evidence base for understanding participation in private land conservation programmes, as well as the perceptions of key stakeholders towards rewilding. This knowledge can be harnessed by policymakers and practitioners to maximise participation in conservation programmes and activities on privately owned land, to achieve international conservation targets and ultimately improve global conservation outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Smith, Robert
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.102736
Uncontrolled keywords: conservation biodiversity rewilding private land conservation policy landowners land-managers perceptions
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2023 08:10 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2023 09:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Stewart, Claire Louise.

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