Biodiversity and Farming: An Evaluation of a Voluntary Stewardship Program and Exploration of Farmer Values
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Farming relies on the ecosystem services provided by biodiversity for production. Farming has been, however, responsible for habitat degradation and destruction, and consequently, biodiversity loss. At present, efforts to increase habitat on farmland are largely confined to voluntary programs. The effectiveness of the provincially delivered Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation (ABC) program was measured using a quantitative survey. Follow-up interviews during farm tours further explored qualitatively how farmers value biodiversity and biodiversity conservation on their land. Results from the survey quantitatively link ABC program participation to increased engagement in riparian management and modified harvesting activities. Qualitative results suggest that the motivation for engagement in biodiversity conservation stems from the farmers’ interest in preserving the balance between production and 'nature', thereby preserving what they perceive to be the health of their land. These results have implications for the improvement of the ABC program and of future stewardship program design.