Working Forest Conservation Easements
Working Forest Conservation Easements allow private landowners a means to permanently
conserve their forests for a variety of public benefits while keeping them in private ownership
and productive forestry. The Pacific Forest Trust pioneered this innovative form of the traditional
conservation easement to help landowners meet their twin goals of economic production and
resource protection. Thousands of U.S. landowners have used conservation easements to ensure
millions of acres will stay as forests forever – sustaining the wood, water, wildlife and a well-
balanced climate that we all depend on – while providing income for their families from forestry,
farming and other uses.
What are Conservation Easements?
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement a landowner makes to conserve their property
in perpetuity by specifying what it can be used for and recording those conditions on the
property’s deed of ownership. For example, to protect sensitive areas a landowner may agree to
put limits on subdivision, development or the location and extent of timber harvesting. This
permanent transfer of usage rights — usually to a land trust – creates a legally enforceable
agreement to protect environmental resources, such as fish and wildlife habitat, water quality or
scenic views. When granted, a conservation easement can be independently valued and the
landowner can receive tax benefits or revenue in return for their conservation commitment. The
agreement becomes part of the property’s deed, ensuring that future landowners manage the
property according to the conservation easement’s terms.
Frequently Asked Questions about Conservation Easements
Does an easement change the ownership of the land?
No. After an easement is granted, the landowner continues to own the property, and it remains
private. They are free to use it, to pass it on to future generations, or sell it.
Can landowners still practice forestry, continue ranching operations, or build?
Yes. In fact, the Pacific Forest Trust specializes in conservation easements on working lands.
Logging, ranching, and some home-building are compatible as long as the property’s
conservation values are protected.
Can landowners get paid or otherwise compensated for a conservation easement?
Yes. Landowners large and small have sold conservation easements on their land. When
landowners make this commitment to conservation, they can be compensated for protecting
public benefits – such as open space, habitat and watershed quality – on their private property.
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Fact Sheet: Working Forest Conservation Easements – page 2 of 2
The value of the conservation easement is readily appraised. Based on this valuation, a
landowner can garner potentially significant income and estate tax benefits by donating the
easement to a land trust like the Pacific Forest Trust. Or an owner may be paid for the
conservation easement, usually from funds available through local, state or federal conservation
Do easements require public access?
No. Private land remains private under a conservation easement unless otherwise agreed to by
About The Pacific Forest Trust
The Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to protecting
America’s working forests for all their public benefits – wood, water, wildlife and a well-
balanced climate. Since its founding in 1993, PFT has directly conserved 45,000 acres of
forestlands in California, Oregon and Washington valued at more than $150 million, including
35,000 acres that have been conserved with Working Forest Conservation Easements.
Through its Working Forests, Winning Climate initiative, PFT is advising landowners, state
governments and federal leaders about the inclusion of forest conservation and sustainable
management in climate policies, markets and best practices. To learn more about the Pacific
Forest Trust, please visit http://www.PacificForest.org