Conservation easements provide landowners with a legal means of protecting their properties' conservation values, while maintaining ownership, retaining certain uses of their land, and earning tax benefits.
A conservation easement, a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and an easement holder, allows the landowner to impose permanent restrictions on the way the property is used. Conservation values are protected by extinguishing some property rights, such as mining and subdivision, while reinforcing rights such as passive recreation, agriculture, silviculture, and some limited construction.
Conservation easements are generally held by governmental entities or specialized nonprofit organizations known as land trusts. Conservation easement holders have both the right and responsibility to monitor and enforce easement terms in perpetuity. State agencies that hold conservation easements include the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia Forestry Commission, and the Soil and Water Conservation Commission. You can learn more about the state's role in conservation easements by reviewing our Policy Guidance for Conservation Easements in Georgia.
The Georgia Land Conservation Program offers grants in the form of reimbursement of due diligence costs to private landowners that are donating a conservation easement or fee title land to a state agency.
Georgia encourages the use of perpetual conservation easements as a way to protect significant conservation values. The Georgia Conservation Tax Credit provides tax credits to conservation easement donors. Easement donors may also claim a federal tax deduction.
- Click here for information on conservation easement appraisal reviews.
- Click here for answers to frequently asked questions regarding conservation easements.
Conservation covenants are similar, but distinct, mechanisms for conserving property. Covenants may be created through the Conservation Use Valuation Assessment (CUVA) programs operated by county tax assessors’ offices. Covenants remain in place for 10 years, and allow the landowner to claim a lower property tax burden during the covenant period. Contact your local tax assessor for more information on conservation covenants, or click here.