The need to integrate social and economic factors into conservation planning has become a focus of academic discussions and has important practical implications for the implementation of conservation areas, both private and public. We conducted a survey in the Daly Catchment, Northern Territory, to inform the design and implementation of a stewardship payment program. We used a choice model to estimate the likely level of participation in two legal arrangements - conservation covenants and management agreements - based on payment level and proportion of properties required to be managed. We then spatially predicted landholders' probability of participating at the resolution of individual properties and incorporated these predictions into conservation planning software to examine the potential for the stewardship program to meet conservation objectives. We found that the properties that were least costly, per unit area, to manage were also the least likely to participate. This highlights a tension between planning for a cost-effective program and planning for a program that targets properties with the highest probability of participation.