River Of Dreams? Factors Of Riparian Buffer Adoption In A Transitioning Watershed
Urbanization results in diversification of land use, landowner goals, and property management behaviors. As such, water quality related to land use may be less tied to agricultural practices when landscapes transition into other land uses. Much research, however, addressing water quality conservation has focused on agricultural landowners, with little research on the attitudes, behaviors, and conservation practices of hobby or non-farmers. My thesis examines the factors that drive private landowner adoption of riparian buffers in an urbanizing watershed. I use mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to test adoption-diffusion theory, with supporting applications of self-efficacy theory and social identity theory. My findings suggest that adoption of conservation practices such as riparian buffers may apply to non-traditional farmers, with important exceptions and additions of certain factors. Landowners' willingness to adopt riparian buffers is increased with positive outcome expectations, or the perceptions of how and what riparian buffers will improve. More generally, this research calls attention to how little non-farmers know about riparian buffers and that this practice is largely associated with Chesapeake Bay restoration rather than local water quality conservation.
dissertation or thesis