The conservation of biodiversity is an important issue world wide and in Australia the maintenance of native biodiversity on farms makes an important contribution to overall conservation objectives. This paper seeks to explain Australian farmers' rationale for maintaining biodiversity on their farms for personal as opposed to business reasons by developing a decision-systems theory from in-depth interviews. This difference has implications for policy development. The decision-systems theory is divided into two main sections. The first section contains five parts. (1) A hierarchy of motivation stories, (2) the concept of suitability and availability of opportunities, (3) a hierarchy of three decision-systems, (4) the concept of personal career paths, (5) the concept of Lenses. The second section contains one part, a policy classification system called 'boxes of influence' that suggests how policy developers can use the information in the first section to develop new biodiversity conservation policy. The paper suggests that decision-systems theory could be used to shed new light on current trends in agriculture and become an important investigative tool for policy development concerning the conservation of biodiversity on farms.