Conservation of biodiversity in private lands: are Chilean landowners willing to keep threatened species in their lands?
BACKGROUND: The biological conservation in private lands largely depends upon landowners' willingness to keep populations of wild species on them, an issue highlighted by the Convention on Biological Diversity. In this study, we aim (i) to understand small landowners' behavioural intentions, or relative intensity to adopt a given behaviour, towards threatened wildlife and (ii) to assess the role of local ecological knowledge, awareness of protected area, and forest ownership on landowners' behavioural intentions towards threatened biodiversity. We interviewed peasants living around Los Queules National Reserve in Central Chile. RESULTS: Interview results showed that behavioural intentions towards threatened species were species-dependant. Results also showed that higher ecological knowledge and awareness of a protected area were associated with positive behavioural intentions towards wildlife. Peasants who owned land with larger forest cover reported positive behavioural intentions towards wildlife more frequently than peasants with less forest cover on their lands, although associations were not consistent across species. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that (i) opportunities for getting peasants to support species conservation depend on the particular species and vary across peasants and (ii) there is a relevant social heterogeneity among peasants in terms of behavioural intentions towards species. As both factors likely influence conservation outcomes, they should be considered in the design of biodiversity conservation efforts.