Agricultural land ownership change and natural resource management: Comparing Australian and US case studies

Emily Mendham, Hannah Gosnell, Allan Curtis

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Rural areas throughout the developed world are undergoing significant re-structuring due to a number of socio-economic factors. One aspect of recent rural change has to do with demographic shifts and in-migration to rural areas formerly dominated by agricultural enterprises and other types of working landscapes. Since ownership is a major determinant of land use, and different cohorts of owners interact socially in different ways, these trends have implications for natural resource management (NRM). In this chapter, we present results of research on trends in agricultural ownership change in regions of Australia and the American West that involved analysis of property sales records, survey data, and semi-structured interviews with landowners and other key informants. In the Australian study areas, 50% of properties are likely to change hands between 2006 and 2016, doubling previous rates, and there is good reason to expect continued rapid turnover in the U.S. study regions. Findings from the U.S. and Australian studies highlight that a substantial proportion of newer owners are absentee and many are amenity buyers. Newer and longer-term owners are by and large significantly different in terms of their values, attitudes, levels of knowledge and management practices, although they share important similarities. We consider the implication of these trends for NRM, and the extent to which our findings substantiate theoretical understandings of rural change associated with the concept of multifunctionality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemographic change in Australia's rural landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationImplications for society and the environment
EditorsGary W Luck, Digby Race, Rosemary Black
Place of PublicationThe Netherlands
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9789048196548
ISBN (Print)9789048196524, 9780643096912
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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