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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


Agricultural Conservation Easements: The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations

One of the most valuable "sticks" in the fee simple bundle of rights commonly known as "private property" is the right to develop that land (Lindstrom, 2000). A conservation easement is a legal instrument designed to temporarily or perpetually remove the right to develop from other rights in the bundle (Gustanksi and Squires, 2000). That right is typically severed from other ownership rights and conveyed to a unit of government or a qualified non-profit conservation organization for the public benefits linked to open or undeveloped land. The right to develop cannot be exercised by the easement holder absent the other user rights, so the development right is effectively"shelved" while the easement is in effect.

By Lawrence Libby

Publication type: 
Policy brief
Date published: 
Tuesday, January 1, 2002