Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2340471
 


 



Adapting Conservation Easements to Climate Change


Adena R. Rissman


University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jessica Owley


SUNY Buffalo Law School

Barton H. Thompson Jr.


Stanford Law School

M. Rebecca Shaw


Environmental Defense Fund

March 25, 2014

Conservation Letters, 2014
SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-022

Abstract:     
Perpetual conservation easements (CEs) are popular for restricting development and land use, but their fixed terms create challenges for adaptation to climate change. The increasing pace of environmental and social change demands adaptive conservation instruments. To examine the adaptive potential of CEs, we surveyed 269 CEs and interviewed 73 conservation organization employees. While only 2% of CEs mentioned climate change, the majority of employees were concerned about climate change impacts. CEs share the fixed-boundary limits typical of protected areas with additional adaptation constraints due to permanent, partial property rights. CEs often have multiple, potentially conflicting purposes that protect against termination but complicate decisions about principled, conservation-oriented adaptation. Monitoring is critical for shaping adaptive responses, but only 35% of CEs allowed organizations to conduct ecological monitoring. Additionally, CEs provided few requirements or incentives for active stewardship of private lands. We found four primary options for changing land use restrictions: CE amendment, management plan revisions, approval of changes through discretionary consent, and updating laws or policies codified in the CE. Conservation organizations, funders, and the IRS should promote processes for principled adaptation in CE terms, provide more active stewardship of CE lands, and consider alternatives to the CE tool.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: climate change, conservation easements, land trusts, private land conservation, protected areas

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Date posted: March 29, 2014 ; Last revised: June 9, 2014

Suggested Citation

Rissman, Adena R. and Owley, Jessica and Thompson, Barton H. and Shaw, M. Rebecca, Adapting Conservation Easements to Climate Change (March 25, 2014). Conservation Letters, 2014; SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-022. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2340471

Contact Information

Adena R. Rissman
University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States
HOME PAGE: http://fwe.wisc.edu/facstaff/rissman
Jessica Owley (Contact Author)
SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )
School of Law
528 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-8182 (Phone)
716-645-2064 (Fax)

Barton H. Thompson Jr.
Stanford Law School ( email )
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
650-723-2518 (Phone)
650-725-8509 (Fax)
M. Rebecca Shaw
Environmental Defense Fund ( email )
1875 Connecticut ave
257 Park Avenue South
Washington, DC 20009
United States
415 293 6159 (Phone)
415 293 6051 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.edf.org/people/rebecca-shaw
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