Thinking about how to drive the protection of privately protected land forward, the need for business models that work for landowners and land-users as well as for nature plays a central role. An interesting read by Seema Jayachandran explains how we could take over key elements of the Airbnb business model to do just that. In essence, the idea is to find a middle ground between private development and turning the land into a nature reserve. Land could be “rented out” to nature in certain times when the owner has less need for it or by establishing nuanced land use rights which work for both. The latter concept of establishing user rights and identifying clear protection targets on a piece of land which may still be used for other purposes is also the main idea behind the concept of conservation easements. Which has been a key topic within the LIFE ELCN project and is continuing to be under LIFE ENPLC. To landowners, such business models are attractive as they receive payments for adjusting their practices, which helps reduce potential risks. Programmes like BirdReturns are also developed in cooperation with farmers and are voluntary which increases willingness to cooperate. At the same time, it provides conservationists with the real investment when applying the concept of reverse auction. In general, the costs of such approaches to private land protection undercut those of purchasing land greatly and have proven to be very effective.
The article is a great read for anyone interested in learning about innovative business models and approaches to private land the topic and highly recommended.