Scenic Virginia

Conservation Easements

Pastoral view of buildings, fields, and hills in Shenandoah County
Photo: Shenandoah County by Dan Ewart

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Landowners retain many of their rights, including the right to own and use the land, sell it, and pass it on to their heirs (Source: Land Trust Alliance). The easement may also specifically protect natural, scenic, or historic features of the property (Source: Piedmont Environmental Council). Conservation easements can be a valuable tool for scenic resources preservation.


Economic: Tax Benefits

In the state of Virginia, there are property tax benefits and state and federal income tax benefits for donating a conservation easement. For more information, check out Piedmont Environmental Council’s summary of tax benefits.


A 2017 study at Colorado State University found that conservation easements in Colorado conserved nearly 1.5 million acres of crucial habitat, conserved almost 300,000 acres of prime farmland, and 4,100 miles of stream, creek, or river frontage. The study estimates that residents of the state have received an estimated $5.5-$13.7 billion of economic benefits from the land conserved through conservation easements.



Case Studies


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Piedmont Environmental Council