Conservation Agreements (Easements, Covenants, or Servitudes)
(also known as Conservation Easement, Covenant or Servitude)
Courtesy Nature Conservancy of Canada
A conservation agreement (sometimes called a conservation easement, covenant or servitude) is a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and conservation organization that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values.
Unlike other securement methods that require the landowner to sell or donate their property to a conservation organization, conservation agreements allow private landowners to continue to own and use their land and even to sell it or pass it on to heirs.
How are conservation agreements used?
- Conservation agreements are used to protect conservation values such as wetlands, forests, prairies, rare plants and animals, wildlife habitat and scenic landscapes.
- Each conservation agreement's restrictions are tailored to fit the particular property, the natural features to be protected and the interest of the landowner.
- A conservation agreement restricts the activities on the subject land (or part of the land).
The conservation organization, with the help of the landowner, determines the conservation targets and develops restrictions to prevent activities that could negatively impact those values.
For example, if the purpose of the agreement is to protect a large tract of forest, the restrictions may be developed to prevent subdivision of the property and/or remove certain native vegetation species.
Conservation agreement restrictions may apply to a landowner's entire property or just the portion containing the significant natural features.
Most conservation agreements are perpetual in duration, ensuring long-term conservation.
- One of the keys to guaranteeing the integrity of these agreements is commitment to monitoring each term of each conservation agreement on a consistent basis.
This plays a critical role in detecting unauthorized changes in the agreement lands, to ensure that lands are being maintained in accordance with the terms of the agreements and to identify and address any violations of the agreements as early as possible.
Consult your local Land Trust for local detailed information. Visit the Canadian Land Trust Alliance website.