Thursday, August 5, 2010: 11:30 AM-1:15 PM
305, David L Lawrence Convention Center
Land conservation is necessary to combat the ills of climate change and environmental degradation. Dissatisfaction with public methods of environmental protection has spurred conservationists to pursue private conservation options. One of the most common private conservation tools is the conservation easement. Conservation easements are property rights in land held by someone other than the landowner. Additionally, the rights must have a conservation purpose. When an owner places a conservation easement on her land, whether by donating it, selling it, or creating it to meet legal requirements, she is agreeing to refrain from exercising certain rights. These rights include things like the right to develop, the right to farm in a certain manner, or the right to fill in wetlands.
Unfortunately, conservation easements may fail to accommodate the reality of our environmental problems. These perpetual agreements lack flexibility, making them inappropriate tools for environmental protection in the context of climate change and our evolving understanding of conservation biology. Despite the fact that conservation easements are at heart a conservation tool, alarmingly few are reviewed by conservation biologists or other scientists. No state’s conservation easement statute requires any review or monitoring of the agreements by persons with training in environmental science and biology.
This workshop introduces ecologists and social scientists to conservation easements. We begin with a primer about the basics of conservation easements and then examine the role scientists can play in improving the tool. We will focus in particular the use of conservation easements to respond to global climate change.