Private lands conservation is an innovative tactic that leverages the increasing interest of the private sector to take part in conservation. The Conservancy works with landowners, communities, cooperatives and businesses to establish local groups that can protect land. Some of the main tools used to achieve these goals include land trusts, conservation easements, private reserves and incentives. In addition, a Private Lands Program was developed by The Nature Conservancy to use our experience in the United States in developing land conservation tools internationally.
In the United States, The Nature Conservancy uses land acquisition as a principal tool of its conservation effort. The Conservancy helps to protect approximately 15 million acres in the United States. Outside the U.S., the Conservancy does not generally acquire land for its own protection but instead works with local communities and national governments to encourage the protection of ecologically-sensitive land.
Conservation easements are one of the most powerful, effective tools available for the permanent conservation of private lands. Their use has successfully protected millions of acres of land while keeping it in private hands and generating significant public benefits.A conservation easement is a restriction placed on a piece of property to protect its associated resources. The easement is either voluntarily donated or sold by the landowner and constitutes a legally binding agreement that limits certain types of uses or prevents development from taking place on the land in perpetuity while the land remains in private hands. Conservation easements protect land for future generations while allowing owners to retain many private property rights and to live on and use their land, at the same time potentially providing them with tax benefits.
In recent years, the Conservancy has begun working with private, conservation-minded individuals, or "conservation buyers," interested in acquiring and protecting ecologically-valuable lands. Through this program, the Conservancy identifies and purchases target properties within priority conservation areas, or in zones that buffer and surround core natural areas. The Conservancy then widely and publicly markets the property, seeking a buyer committed to protecting the property's important natural values and willing to ensure the land's long-term conservation by placing a conservation easement on the land. The value of the land before and after the conservation easement restrictions is established by professional, independent appraisals. The Conservancy prohibits sales of conservation lands to any related parties.
If you are interested in learning more, please contact the local office of The Nature Conservancy using the Where We Work directory.