Conservation covenants (or easements) are flexible but legally enforceable documents attached to a land title restricting the use of that land, providing for the protection of important conservation values, while allowing the landholder to retain possession. Given the attractiveness of covenants to those who seek to expand national and regional nature conservation initiatives, it is important to understand landholder motivations for participation in programmes that covenant for nature conservation. This paper examines the likely influences on landholder decision making when it comes to conservation initiatives. A review of literature highlights key motivations and determinants, such as landholder demographics and the nature of the land tenure in question, their knowledge and awareness of the programme, financial circumstances, and perceptions of financial and other risks and benefits of the programme itself, including incentives and compensation. Underpinning, or mediating, the decision-making processes will be landholder philosophies and values, and five constructs are determined from the review, namely economic dependence on property, private property rights, confidence in perpetual covenant mechanisms, nature conservation equity and nature conservation ethic. Using these constructs, a series of explicit hypotheses is drawn, applicable to agencies dealing with conservation covenants and testable through an adaptive management approach. A conceptual model is presented to show hypothesized relationships between motivational factors and the five constructs that will lead to the uptake of covenants by landholders, providing direction for policy makers and managers of incentive programmes for nature conservation on private lands.