Human Dimensions of Water Resource Management: What drives landowners' conservation behavior?
While significant advances have been made in understanding the biophysical aspects of managing water resources, water resource professionals continue to face challenges in developing and implementing management strategies to address nonpoint source pollution. Addressing water resource problems requires not only technical and engineering solutions, but also commitment and action of residents, land owners and entire communities. Although much is known about the biophysical aspects of managing water resources, the human dimensions of water resource management are not as well understood.
Landowners are a key stakeholder in water management since most of the land in Minnesota is privately owned. Landowner conservation behavior has the potential to make significant improvements in water quality outcomes. Programs that aim to change behavior must appeal to the values, beliefs and personal norms of their target audience. We have thus far collected survey data from nine Minnesota watersheds examining landowner values, beliefs and norms associated with clean water conservation behavior. Findings from these studies suggest that landowner conservation behavior is influenced by social-psychological factors such as personal obligation, responsibility, and perceived ability. Practical implications for conservation programs and policy will be discussed.