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Projects ~ Rights of Nature Conservation Easements

Two Buckingham, Virginia  properties are being transferred to Rights of Nature Conservation Easements. Virginians have expressed interest in this very new approach to protecting the natural community. If you are a landowner in Virginia, let us know how we can work together to protect your land.

Legally enforceable rights

Rights of Nature easements are a legally enforceable way for private landowners to create Rights for Nature and ecosystems through the placement of conservation easements on their parcels of land.

For decades, traditional conservation easements have been used by landowners to protect land from development. These new Rights of Nature easements build on those traditional easements by including provisions which recognize the rights of waterways, forests, and other ecosystems to exist, flourish, naturally evolve, and regenerate.

The first Rights of Nature easement was established in Hawaii in December, 2017. Read more here.

Progress

The easements take laws, which have been adopted in the United States by cities, towns, and counties, and incorporate those laws into restrictions on the use of specific parcels of land.

The creation and recognition of those rights for ecosystems establish the principle that Nature has its own right to exist, flourish, evolve. The easements provide stronger legal protections for the land and the ecosystems dependent upon that land while allowing the property owner to stop activities happening outside of the land that affects those rights.

 

What does a Rights of Nature easement do?
  • Enables property owners to recognize ecosystems as possessing certain rights which cannot be violated by any future property owner.
  • Provides legal enforcement against harmful activities occurring outside of the parcel of land which may violate the rights of ecosystems on the land. For instance, drift from genetically modified crops or pollution of upstream waterways may have impacts on the ecosystems protected by Rights of Nature easements. Because it is the rights of those ecosystems which are recognized and secured by the easements, the easement can be used to stop those activities.
  • Allows for a certain percentage of future development on the property.
  • Can be donated to any land trust or other organization which meets state legal requirements for holding easements with conservation value.
The Terra Conservancy

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, CELDF, the organization which has created the Rights of Nature Conservation Easements, has also created the Terra Conservancy, for the sole purpose of holding and enforcing these easements. Stay tuned for more information.