Private landowners, voluntary conservation programs, and implementation of conservation friendly land management practices.
Private land conservation mechanisms are critical components employed by policy makers and conservation professionals to support the stewardship and protection of vital ecosystem services. While most research on voluntary conservation programs focuses on motives and barriers to participation, little is known about landowner activities and ecological status once property is enrolled in programs. Our mailed survey to landowners with property enrolled in the Indiana Classified Forest and Wildlands Program in U.S.A. revealed that (1) environmental motives, (2) residential motives like family life, and (3) having more land enrolled in the program were strong predictors of individuals who implemented conservation actions such as removal of invasive species and control of erosion. We also found that landowners witnessing environmental improvements on their land reported more conservation actions than those perceiving unchanged environmental conditions. A better understanding of landowner perceptions and conservation outcomes can help policy makers improve private land conservation programs.