Attitudes and Perceptions on Potential Development of Nature-Based Enterprises among Landowners in the Alabama Black Belt

By Howell, Maribel Mojica; Christian, Colmore et al. | Journal of Sustainable Development, December 2014 | Go to article overview

Attitudes and Perceptions on Potential Development of Nature-Based Enterprises among Landowners in the Alabama Black Belt


Howell, Maribel Mojica, Christian, Colmore, Fraser, Rory, Journal of Sustainable Development


Abstract

The Alabama black belt region is one of the poorest areas in the country, characterized by predominantly African American population and dark rich soil. Creating nature-based ventures is an opportunity that can be realized to alleviate poverty and improve quality of life in the region. The objective of this study is to examine landowner attitudes and perceptions towards nature-based activities on their land and the potential development of nature-based enterprises. Descriptive statistics and logit analysis were utilized to analyze survey data. Results indicate that the top two available nature-based activities are hunting and fishing. Hunting and fishing are also perceived to be the most potentially-profitable nature-based businesses that could be developed on the respondents' land. Logit results show that a landowner is more likely to use the land for nature-based activities if he has a relatively large land, large family, and if recreation is one of his primary reasons for using the land.

Keywords: nature-based tourism, landowners, Alabama, black belt region

1. Introduction

For many years, nature has been recognized as being central to the principles of sustainable development. This focus on nature and its uses has similarly become central to the forest-to-nature-based tourism transition in regional communities. There is full acceptance by the business sector that nature is a major sector of global and national economies. Several research organizations have published periodicals, case studies, and analyses of nature-based enterprises. What is missing is the analysis of the determinants affecting the potential of the land to be used for nature-based businesses based on the range of social research. In particular, attitudes and preferences of land managers need to be examined when analyzing the potential of the land for nature-based enterprises.

The recreation industry is a vital part of the economy in the black belt region of Alabama. The 10 million acre land provides recreational opportunities to visitors to the area contributing to the local economy and profitability of nature-based businesses. Hunters, anglers and recreation enthusiasts from the state and across the United States visit the black belt region. According to the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association (2012), sportsmen spending in the black belt region credit an estimated 11,000 jobs in 2011. More than 50 percent of Alabama hunting and fishing dollars are generated in the black belt region. In fact, 59 out of 74 hunting and fishing lodges in the state are located in this region.

The Alabama black belt region is one of the poorest areas in the country, characterized by predominantly African American population and dark rich soil. Other features of the area include rural decline, substandard quality of life, and poor economies. While the overall state of Alabama's unemployment rate is improving, the state's black belt counties are not faring as well. The highest levels of unemployment in Alabama are in the black belt counties and range from 13 to 16 percent (Reeves, 2013). Creating ventures related to outdoor leisure and nature is an opportunity that can be realized to alleviate poverty and improve quality of life in the region. To increase employment and supplemental income in the mral areas, non-farming operations need to be provided and encouraged. Therefore, the logic for policy measures and programs to promote enterprise growth in nature- based operations is evident. Business enterprises, particularly the need for diversification enterprises have been identified as one vehicle to stimulate mral regeneration (Warren-Smith & Jackson, 2003).

Enterprises based on natural resources available on private farms, forests, and other private land, such as fee-access leisure activities can provide opportunities for supplementing landowner income that can eventually help alleviate poverty in many communities such as in Alabama black belt. …

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