Working Papers
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Conservation Easements in the U.S. and Abroad

Reflections and Views toward the Future

Harvey M. Jacobs

February 2014, English

Public policy for privately owned land in the United States was traditionally undertaken in one of three ways: through regulation, via manipulation of the property tax, or through targeted use of public capital investments. Thirty years ago a fourth approach began to gain prominence—private, non-profit land trusts and their use of the conservation easements.

In summer 2012 the Lincoln Institute sponsored a panel at an international conference on agriculture and forestry to expose U.S. practice with land trusts and conservation easements, and to ask questions about the transferability of the U.S. experience to other countries. This working paper provides an integrated summary of the presentations made at that conference and the papers subsequently prepared by the panel presenters.

Cutting edge practice is profiled in the Pacific Northwest and by a TIMO (private timberland investment organization). The use of conservation easements by land trusts will continue its growth in the U.S., there is both caution and hope for the transferability of the U.S. experience.