Landowners' incentives for constructing wetlands in an agricultural area in south Sweden

J Environ Manage. 2012 Dec 30:113:271-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.09.008. Epub 2012 Oct 11.


Eutrophication of the Baltic Sea has in Sweden led to the initiation of government schemes aiming to increase wetland areas in agricultural regions and thereby reduce nutrient transport to the sea. Landowners play a significant role as providers of this ecosystem service and are currently offered subsidies to cover their costs for constructing and maintaining wetlands. We undertook a grounded theory study, in which landowners were interviewed, aiming at identifying landowners' incentives for constructing wetlands on their land. The study showed that adequate subsidies, additional services that the wetland could provide to the landowner, local environmental benefits, sufficient knowledge, and peers' good experiences could encourage landowners to construct wetlands. Perceived hindrances were burdensome management, deficient knowledge, time-consuming application procedures and unclear effectiveness of nutrient reduction. The main reason for not creating a wetland, however, was that the land was classified as productive by the landowner, i.e., suitable for food production. Current schemes are directed toward landowners as individuals and based on subsidies to cover costs. We propose that landowners instead are approached as ecosystem service entrepreneurs and contracted after a tendering process based on nutrient reduction effects. This would lead to new definitions of production and may stimulate improved design and placement of wetlands.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Ecosystem
  • Motivation*
  • Sweden
  • Wetlands*