Date of Award:

2012

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Environment and Society

Advisor/Chair:

Zhao Ma

Abstract

Rangelands have significant potential to sequester carbon and contribute to the mitigation of climate change. This research aimed at better understanding the beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of Utah rangeland owners concerning carbon sequestration and climate change, examining their current grazing management practices in relation to soil carbon sequestration, and exploring factors influencing their likelihood of participating in future programs. Data were collected through interviews of Utah rangeland owners and range management professionals and a statewide rangeland owner survey. About two-thirds of respondents thought the climate had been changing over the last 30 years, were aware of carbon sequestration, and viewed it positively. Forty-one percent considered it an important management objective. Having positive attitudes was associated with having “biocentric” environmental value and believing climate change and its anthropogenic nature. Respondents valued the potential ecological benefits of carbon sequestration, indicated a preference for educational programs over financial incentives, and preferred working with private agricultural organizations over non-profit or government entities on carbon management. Thirty-seven percent of respondents reported likely to participate in a carbon sequestration program. Higher likelihood was associated with dependence on livestock production, considering carbon sequestration an important management objective, being interested in learning more about it, and placing high importance on the economic and climate benefits of participating in relevant programs. These results suggest potential challenges for developing technically sound and socially acceptable policies and programs for promoting carbon sequestration on private rangelands. Rangeland owners’ attitudes towards carbon sequestration may play a strong role in their participation in future programs. Although education and outreach are considered important, innovative strategies are needed to communicate the concept and processes of carbon sequestration with rangeland owners without politicizing the issue. One approach is to tailor education and outreach messages to focus on the ecological benefits of carbon sequestration. Efforts are also needed to enhance the cooperation between private agricultural organizations and government agencies to promote carbon management on private rangelands. Instead of developing new programs, funneling resources to improve the carbon sequestration potential of existing conservation programs and attract wider participation among rangeland owners may be another cost effective policy strategy.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on December 21, 2012.

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