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Conservation Easements in a Changing Climate


May 17, 2017


Washington, DC (and webinar)

An ELI Public Seminar & Book Launch

Conservation easements are a property law innovation between a landowner and an eligible organization to protect natural and cultural resources. These instruments are increasingly being used both for traditional conservation purposes and as a critical climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy.  Because land use decisions are generally made at the local level, environmental and conservation stakeholders should consider using conservation easements as a hedge against threats posed by inactive or regressive federal climate and environmental policy under President Trump’s Administration as well as a hedge against the on-going stressors from our warming climate. This seminar provided valuable information and strategies for how proponents can maintain the integrity of conservation easements in perpetuity while creating flexibility to address the dynamic threats of climate change.  This seminar was an essential conversation for environment and conservation advocates who seek to protect the American landscape for future generations.

Skills Learned:

  • Understanding of the legal framework guiding the creation, implementation, and termination of conservation easements
  • Identify challenges with and alternatives to perpetual conservation easements, including the need for adaptation to climate change
  • Current valuation of tax benefits and potential reforms
  • Strategies for resource planning
  • New applications for easements in an international context to protect resources and combat the effects of climate change

This event drew upon lessons gathered in “A Changing Landscape: The Conservation Easement Reader,” by Laurie A. Ristino and Jessica E. Jay, who provided an overview of current regulatory frameworks and practices, while suggesting new avenues for their application. The panel reviewed the above skills and discussed how conservation easements can be used to achieve strategic conservation and climate mitigation goals.

Jessica E. Jay, Founder and Principal Attorney, Conservation Law, P.C.
Erik Meyers, Vice President, The Conservation Fund
Adena Rissman, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin
Laurie A. Ristino, Director for the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems & Associate Professor of Law, Vermont Law School

If you are an ELI member and are logged onto the Members site, you will see links below to available materials/recordings from this session. If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.