What is a conservation easement?
Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements that landowners enter to permanently restrict the uses of their land. An interested landowner works with a conservation group such as Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) to craft a deed of conservation easement that lays out what’s special about the land and the restrictions that will protect it. Conservation easements are NVCT’s most common, most effective way of protecting land.
With a conservation easement, the landowner retains the typical rights of property ownership, such as choosing whether and what to farm, selling the land, and passing it on to heirs. NVCT, as the “holder” of the conservation easement, carefully documents the special aspects of the land. To maintain the conservation values, the landowner and NVCT determine the easement terms on topics such as division of the land, future construction, and what can take place in high-resource areas like stream corridors, historic sites, or scenic parts of a property.
Each conservation easement’s restrictions and purposes are laid out in a deed that’s recorded at the county courthouse. After the deed is recorded, NVCT staff members visit the property annually and work with the current
and future landowners to help them uphold the conservation easement. Visit our stewardship page to learn more about the management process.
A conservation easement is a private, voluntary, permanent agreement. In this way, it’s different from turning land into public parks, and from public policies such as overlay districts or zoning that could be reversed in the future.
The terms are unique to each easement, but the process is similar. Click here to see the steps NVCT follows in working with landowners. If you’d like to learn more and see whether your land is a good candidate for a conservation easement or other transfer of title, please contact us.