University of PEI, Department of Environmental Studies
Voluntary Stewardship and the Canadian Species at Risk Act: Exploring Landowners’ Willingness to Protect Species at Risk in PEI
Building on the research done in the first year of this project, a large survey was done with farmers on PEI to further explore if voluntary stewardship can be used to encourage protection of species at risk on private land in PEI. The results showed that while landowners do not have a lot of knowledge of Species at Risk, they are very interested in learning more about how to protect them on their land. This research could lead to the development of an educational program to help rural landowners learn how to manage their land to protect the habitat of Species at Risk.
The project goals revisited:
- Describe rural landowner characteristics. A survey was mailed out to 600 farms and 88 completed surveys were returned. Of those, 58% identified as farmers while an additional 20% said they were retired. Seventy-four percent obtained some of their income from their land, with 53% stating that they got just over half of their income from the land. About 66% of respondents were male. In terms of education, 30% had a high school education, 30% had a college diploma and 35% had a university degree.
- Summarize rural landowner awareness of and attitudes towards species at risk in PEI. Most respondents knew what was meant by the term ‘Species at Risk’ (69.4%). Sixty-eight percent had heard of species at risk on PEI and 42% said that they had seen species at risk on their land. However, it was not clear that respondents actually knew which species were officially listed as ‘at risk’ on PEI. Those surveyed had little knowledge of the federal Species at Risk Act with only 8% indicating they had heard of it. Most did not know to which land type it applied, but 40% believed that it applied to both public and private lands. Almost all respondents said that they agreed with protecting species at risk, saying that they had value to the ecosystem, had value for humans or had intrinsic value.
- Understand how characteristics, awareness and attitudes affect rural landowners’ willingness to engage in voluntary stewardship actions that support species at risk conservation. Most respondents (68%) felt that it was the government’s responsibility to protect species at risk, with an additional 14% saying that it was partially the responsibility of government. Most (84%) felt that in order to protect species at risk, their habitat should be protected. Respondents also felt that private landowners had a role in protecting species at risk, including protection of habitat, following government regulations or implementing farming practices that benefit species at risk.
- Evaluate what could be done, in a practical sense, to encourage rural landowners to conserve species at risk in PEI. When asked if they would voluntarily change their land management strategies to protect species at risk, most (84%) said that they would. They stated that they required education or direction on what to do. A small number (9%) said they would do so if it didn’t affect their profits and 4% said they would do so if given compensation.