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Abstract

If markets for nature conservation services are to ensure an efficient supply, property rights need to be well defined, readily defended and tradeable. However, some of these services have ill defined property rights that are costly, if at all possible to defend. This limits the incentives for private sector entities to deliver nature conservation benefits and has provided a rationale for public sector provision. Private Sector Conservation Enterprises (PSCEs) have the potential to fill any gap between the public sector supply of nature conservation services and the public’s demand for them. This paper reports a two stage survey designed to determine whether or not PSCEs are active in Australia to fill this supply gap. The first questionnaire collected high-level information on conservation activities, scale of operation, revenue and expenditure. The follow-up questionnaire sought more detailed information on factors that either constrain or facilitate the work of PSCEs. The research shows that there is an active and substantial PSCE sector operating across all states and territories. Despite their private sector roots, most PSCEs in Australia receive a proportion of their revenue from government grants. However, these groups also creatively engage local communities in nature conservation and successfully leverage private sector funds.

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