Article Type

Full Research Article – Regular Issue








The increasing population and economic growth of South Carolina make it attractive for landowners to convert their land to commercial and urbanized zones. However, since ecosystems are directly affected by land use, changes in these land uses directly impact the ecosystem services (ES). Therefore, efforts to conserve ecosystems are paramount and are often supported through conservation-incentive programs. One approach for conservation programs is to provide economic incentives for landowners to retain their land as forest or agricultural land. The success of these programs eventually affects the ES recipients or “end-users,” particularly the residents. Therefore, it is important to understand the stakeholders’ perceptions toward these programs. Understanding the landowners’ perception can provide information on how to engage them to join the conservation programs. Furthermore, knowing the residents’ perception could improve the “buy-in” or support from the public for promoting conservation within the community. The stakeholders’ perception can serve as a feedback mechanism and could provide key information for improving implementation strategies for conservation programs.

This study elicited the knowledge, awareness, and perception of South Carolina residents and landowners to conservation programs. Results show that while a majority are not aware of the conservation programs being implemented in the state, there is no doubt that residents and landowners know the importance of conservation and how it affects their well-being. However, since many conservation concepts use technical terminology, stakeholders have increased difficulty grasping these concepts. This poses a challenge for academics and conservation agencies to improve communication methods and better impart conservation messaging. The results also show that residents are willing to support the conservation programs; landowners are willing to participate in conservation activities, especially if they are compensated. Therefore, this emphasizes a good opportunity to establish stakeholder-driven strategies such as sustainable financing mechanisms for conservation programs.





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