Understanding factors influencing landholder participation in native vegetation best management practices in the Murray Irrigation region
The research outlined in this paper investigated landholder adoption of native vegetation best management practices (NVBMPs) in the Murray Irrigation Area of south west New South Wales. Although landholders have widely adopted farm planning and irrigation recycling in the Murray Irrigation area, landholder implementation of NVBMPs has been relatively low in relation to targets set for vegetation conservation.
Landholders across the region were interviewed to explore their experiences with native vegetation management and their perceptions of the incentives offered. Semi-structured interviews were held with landholders who had undertaken recommended practices using incentives compared with landholders who have not accessed incentives or are unwilling to undertake recommended practices. Natural Resource Management officers from the region were also interviewed. Prior to conducting the semi-structured interviews, a group interview was held with Murray Irrigation Ltd implementation officers.
Results showed that landholders who adopted the practice, or have a desire to undertake vegetation works, do so because it matches their personal goals and values. Indeed, some landholders had gone beyond the recommended practices to achieve their goals. Many farmers had conducted conservation projects with other organizations or funded by themselves. Major constraints to taking up incentives included the extra cost and time associated with works, perceived production loss, the ease with which the practice fits with existing farming systems, and the extension process.
The importance of the extension process throughout all stages of the adoption process and maintaining good extension staff were emphasized by the landholders interviewed. In this paper we reflect on how to obtain better uptake of NVBMPs and incentives based on these findings, and explore the implications for decision-makers by providing recommendations on how to better meet the needs of farmers.