Effects of preference heterogeneity among landowners on spatial conservation prioritization

The participation of private landowners in conservation is crucial to efficient biodiversity conservation. This is especially the case in settings where the share of private ownership is large and the economic costs associated with land acquisition are high. We used probit regression analysis and historical participation data to examine the likelihood of participation of Danish forest owners in a voluntary conservation program. We used the results to spatially predict the likelihood of participation of all forest owners in Denmark. We merged spatial data on the presence of forest, cadastral information on participation contracts, and individual-level socioeconomic information about the forest owners and their households. We included predicted participation in a probability model for species survival. Uninformed and informed (included land owner characteristics) models were then incorporated into a spatial prioritization for conservation of unmanaged forests. The choice models are based on sociodemographic data on the entire population of Danish forest owners and historical data on their participation in conservation schemes. Inclusion in the model of information on private landowners' willingness to supply land for conservation yielded at intermediate budget levels up to 30% more expected species coverage than the uninformed prioritization scheme. Our landowner-choice model provides an example of moving toward more implementable conservation planning.