OOS 74-7
Evaluating management strategies to enhance biodiversity in conservation developments: Perspectives from developers in Colorado, USA

Thursday, August 13, 2015: 3:40 PM
317, Baltimore Convention Center
Daniel S. Feinberg, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Mark E. Hostetler, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida
Sarah E. Reed, North America Program, Wildlife Conservation Society, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Elizabeth F. Pienaar, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida
Liba Pejchar, Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Background/Question/Methods Conservation development (CD) refers to a set of land development techniques aimed at minimizing impacts on natural resources. Typically, homes are clustered and open space is set aside for conservation. The evidence for the effectiveness of CDs in conserving biodiversity is mixed, with some studies attributing these results to a lack of stewardship in conserved areas. The purpose of this research was to ask landowners and developers to evaluate stewardship practices as part of a policy scenario. We surveyed landowners and developers who had created CDs in north-central Colorado; we solicited their attitudes about native biodiversity conservation and their willingness to adopt four conservation practices, given proposed incentive-based policies. We also conducted semi-structured interviews with respondents to elaborate on their response to these proposed incentives, as well as two potential funding mechanisms (homeowners’ association dues and a property tax) to support management practices.

Results/Conclusions The survey sample consisted of 44 developers, of whom 25 (56.8%) responded to the survey, and we conducted follow-up interviews with 17 survey respondents. Overall, we found moderate support for the conservation practices (median rating of 4 on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 representing strong opposition and 5 representing strong support). We also found some interest in two types of incentives (seven respondents supported a housing density bonus and four supported fast-tracking permits), although respondents opposed the two proposed funding mechanisms (median rating of 2.5 for homeowners’ association dues and median rating of 1 for the property tax). Our findings suggest that CD developers in Colorado would be willing to adopt conservation practices, and are generally supportive of incentive-based policies, but greater understanding of homeowners’ willingness to pay for conservation features is needed to gain support for a funding mechanism. The implication for ecology is that the proposed policies can enhance the diversity of native plants and animals in urbanizing areas by encouraging management practices that mitigate exotic species invasions and other threats to biodiversity.