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Ecology & Society Special Feature on private land conservation

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We would like to announce an exciting opportunity to publish your research on private land conservation in Ecology & Society!

Please write to Co-Guest Editors Michael Drescher  or Jake Brenner to express your interest or pose any questions. Submission of manuscripts will be through the usual author interface with reference to participation in the Special Feature on private land conservation. Please see below for a description of the Special Feature.

Deadline for submissions: December 1st, 2015

Journal information, including the Special Feature posting: www.ecologyandsociety.org.

Note: Ecology & Society is an open-access only, online journal with fees associated with publication. Please see http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/about/policies.php for more information (scroll down to "Article Fees").

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Special Feature Proposal for Ecology & Society: "Private Land Conservation – Landowner Motives, Policies and Outcomes of Conservation Measures in Unprotected Landscapes"

Guest Editors: Michael Drescher1,2 & Jacob C. Brenner3
1School of Planning, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; 2Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University;
3Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Goal of the Proposed Special Feature:
The goal of the proposed special feature is to inform audiences interested in social-ecological systems of recent findings in the field of private land conservation. By pulling together contributions that vary in their interdisciplinary perspectives, that employ differing methodological approaches, and that stem from diverse geographies, we hope to introduce general audiences to the breadth and richness of this field. Furthermore, we will present recent advances, synthesize important new insights, and offer suggestions for current research needs in private land conservation, which will be of much interest for audiences concerned with the field of private land conservation.

Short Summary:
Based on interdisciplinary insights ranging from ecology, to socio-psychology, policy and rural sociology, and drawing on research from around the world, the proposed special feature will explore conservation policy and implementation on private land, benefits of private land conservation for environmental services, and tools, socio-cultural values and motives for landowner engagement.

Fit with the Focus and Scope of Ecology and Society:
Private landowners are not only managers of natural resources but they also tend to be deeply connected to the very land they own. In this way, landowners do not only affect the land through management, but the land is affecting the people in many ways, which can range from material (e.g., financial gain) to social (e.g., land tenure systems) and spiritual (e.g., place-bound identity). We interpret this multitude of interactions between private landowners and their land as social-ecological systems. Conservation of private land is therefore squarely situated in the center of attention for Ecology and Society: “foundations for sustainable social-ecological systems”. The proposed special feature is also in line with the specific issues of interest for Ecology and Society: a) the stewardship and sustainable use of private land, b) the influences of overt and embodied values contained in private land on social and political systems, and c) the social and political structures that enable sustainable use of private land. Furthermore, the disciplinary backgrounds of the researchers that already agreed to contribute their work is wide ranging and the contributions themselves tend to be of very interdisciplinary nature, which is a great fit with the multi-disciplinary orientation of Ecology and Society.

Need for a Special Feature on Private Land Conservation:
To our knowledge, the last special issue anywhere on the topic of private land conservation was published in 2003 by the journal Environmental Science and Policy. While this special issue, entitled ‘Protecting Nature on Private Land – from Conflicts to Agreements’, was an important contribution, its focus was to a large extent on the situation of private land conservation in Europe, especially in Finland, and concentrating primarily on forests. In the 12 years since its publication, much has changed in the world. For example, debt crises in many industrialized nations are putting downward pressure on government spending for environmental programs, population increases in less industrialized countries are linked to ever-growing rates of environmental resource extraction, and globally the relocation of rural populations to urban centers is increasing further. As a result, government spending on protected areas is increasingly strained, environmental resources even in remote regions are under increasing pressure, and the accelerating rate of land use change in peri-urban areas is one of the leading causes of habitat loss for species-at-risk. If anything, the need for conservation of private land has increased during the last 12 years and its important role as part of a conservation action portfolio is ever more acknowledged. Indeed, now is an opportune moment for a forum on private land conservation that might generate cross-regional comparisons and cross-topical synthesis, as well as spur further action in this important field.

The proposed special feature on private land conservation draws on confirmed contributions from several countries around the world. Next to studies focusing on remote or rural regions, many of the contributions are situated in peri-urban areas and they cover a variety of landscape types such as farmlands, forests, chaparral and grasslands; they also cover a range of scholarly perspectives from ecological science to ethnography and policy/governance analysis. For the above reasons, we believe that this is a good time for a special feature on private land conservation in Ecology and Society, and that the proposed group of studies as a whole will provide an interesting view of the breadth of the field of private land conservation, of recent advances in this field, and of current research needs.

Clarification on "Unprotected Landscapes":
The main difference between conventional land conservation and what we are talking about is the agency of government versus private actors (individuals, informal groups, NGOs or corporations). More specifically, by “protected landscape" we mean a government-owned tract of land protected by policies against anthropogenic land-cover conversion or system-changing resource use. Typically these tracts are “parks,” preserves, or some other type of protected areas. “Unprotected landscapes," as outlined in our special feature description, may not enjoy this level of formal policy protection, but they nevertheless can be conserved, preserved, or protected by other means, such as conservation easements, management agreements, tax incentive programs etc. Conservation instruments such as these are often voluntary, but not always. The concept of private land conservation is interpreted broadly in this case, and prospective authors should feel welcome to place their work within the general rubric of private land conservation as defined here, or to consult with the guest editors with any specific cases or questions.


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Michael Drescher
Associate Professor, School of Planning
Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo
Affiliated Faculty, Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory & Policy Analysis
Indiana University at Bloomington

Jacob C. (Jake) Brenner
Assistant Professor - Environmental Studies and Sciences
Faculty Manager - Ithaca College Natural Lands

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