Conservation Professional Attitudes about Cost Effectiveness of the Land Preservation: A Case Study in Maryland

Messer, Kent D.
Allen, William
Kecinski, Maik
Chen, Yu
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Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.
A consensus exists amongst academics that cost-effective land preservation should involve benefits and costs. In reality, the vast majority of conservation programs are not cost-effective, i.e. lower conservation benefits are achieved for the limited funding. Little research has been conducted about the attitudes of conservation professionals about the importance of being cost-effective and little is known about how conservation professionals believe that they can become more cost-effective. This study reports on a survey conducted with conservation professionals associated with the State of Maryland’s agricultural protection program, a leading program in the United States. Results suggest that while conservation professionals are generally in favor cost-effective conservation, it is not a top goal for them. Processes such as transparency and fairness are rated more important. This research shows how the willingness of administrators to adopt mathematical programming techniques is significantly influenced by knowledge of optimization technique, administrative requirements, cost concerns, percentage of agricultural land previously preserved in the county, how rural the county is, and lack of incentive for administrators to adopt cost-effectiveness techniques. This finding is important to understand the lack of adoption of cost-effective techniques. Results also suggest that adoption may be enhanced with the availability of software and training.
Land conservation , Survey , Conservation professionals , Optimization , Attitudes , Willingness to adopt