Conservation Easements and Climate Change

Governments at all levels are increasingly engaging the challenges posed by global climate change. Conservation easements have provided income tax deductions to their grantors for decades in recognition of certain special benefits afforded by the conservation of land subject to the easement.1 As policy makers search for effective means to address climate change issues, conservation easements may well be recognized as an important tool. However, the current law of conservation easements does not recognize the full potential for carbon capture resulting from land conservation, in part because the tax code limits the types of land that may benefit from such easements. Current laws will need to be revised and expanded to better recognize the climate change benefits that could be achieved from placing land under conservation easements.