Enabling conditions for the implementation and conservation outcomes of a private nature reserve.

Published online
15 Sep 2020
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Leverkus, A. B. & Rey Benayas, J. M. & Solís, P. & Sierra, J. M.
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Expanding conservation efforts to private land is paramount to halt biodiversity loss and achieve global conservation targets. Individual landowners can play disproportionately important roles by establishing private parks andmanaging them with biodiversity-focused objectives. However, several constraints hinder the expansion of such initiatives, and little is known about their extent, characteristics and keys for success. Here, we provide insights on the conditions that favoured the establishment and conservation outcomes of a private reserve in central Spain whose management has been fully conservation-oriented for the past two decades. We report on the actions implemented to accomplish four key targets that aimed at protecting and enhancing wildlife populations, and on the landholder's motivations to devote his personal resources to pursue this goal. After acquiring the land, the landowner has made efforts to restore native wildlife populations after decades of poaching and intensive cattle raising. Key actions included re-establishing degraded vegetation and fostering keystone rabbit populations to sustain carnivore populations. Water bodies are maintained to provide drinking points and foster aquatic animal populations; nest boxes target birds and bats. Many actions resulted from advice from multiple stakeholders, including public administration officers, academics, local residents and NGOs. The estate's formal conservation status has made it a partner in major conservation projects, including repeated releases of captively bred Iberian lynx. The landowner's determination for long-term conservation was formalised through a legal protected-area status. The condition that drove the creation of the reserve was the landowner's intrinsic motivation, which resulted from conservation ethic, personal identity and the desire to share and educate about the multiple values of nature. Additionally, several external conditions, such as accessibility and appropriate reserve size (biophysical conditions), the lack of need for economic activities (economic), a positive and pro-active relationship with multiple stakeholders (social-cultural), the protected-area status and the capacity to make decisions independently (governance-related), have helped sustain the project. The landholder suggests that public policy should reduce the bureaucratic burden to intrinsically motivated landowners and provide them technical advice, trust and financial incentives to expand conservation on private land.

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