The results of this project are intended to assist social agencies using educational or economic incentives, to promote voluntary adoption by farmers of riparian management policies. Farmers attending workshops in Taranaki in April 1998 were surveyed to identify the criteria they used to select their preferred riparian policies and reject others. Farmer use of decision criteria was analysed using the Analytical Hierarchy Process and its results compared with their likelihood of using the policies. The riparian management policies included in the study were: permanently excluding livestock, planting timber trees, planting conservation trees, excluding fertilisers, excluding chemicals, or doing nothing distinctive. The farmers most preferred the planting of conservation trees in riparian areas to the other policies. Their policy preferences were highly correlated (r = 0.76-0.96) with policy benefits, but appeared unrelated to the results of the cost benefit analysis. Further research is needed into farmer decision making on their riparian management before a decision model can be developed that satisfactorily explains farmer behaviour.