Did You Know: Conservation Easements

If you’ve ever scratched your head in confusion over the term “conservation easement”, rest assured that you’re not the only one.

While the term may be a mouthful, the conservation easement is The Land Trust for Tennessee’s primary tool of choice when helping protect land across the state. A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits the property’s uses in order to conserve its conservation values.

Here are some facts and figures you may not have known regarding the very thing that is helping protect Tennessee for future generations…


Conservation easements are documents in perpetuity, meaning they last forever (quite literally).




A conservation easement does not transfer ownership of a property. The landowner still owns the protected property and can use it, sell it or leave it to heirs, but the easement stays with the land permanently.




No two conservation easements are the same.




Conservation easements are not the same as government rights-of-way – they are voluntary options used to protect a property’s conservation values, such as rivers, wildlife habitat, scenic open space, and land of historic or cultural significance.




Length in pages of the average conservation easement document




Original conservation easement documents and documentation reports are stored off-site in a secure records facility to protect from fire, flood, and other natural threats.



A documentation report full of maps and photos is created for each conservation easement, documenting current conditions of the land at the time the easement is finalized.




A conservation easement can take anywhere from several months to several years to finalize, depending on the complexity of the project and number of stakeholders involved.



Each conservation easement is given a name for in-house purposes, following the convention “Project #_Owner/Property Name”. For example, Lakeshore Park in Knoxville is given the name, “337_Lakeshore Park”, as it was our 337th conservation project.



Technology has greatly enhanced the quality of conservation easement documentation, particularly for maps and photos.



Here are examples of how technology has enhanced our easement documentation over the years:

  • Print photo from 2000 (far left) to digital photo from 2018 (center left), which provides GPS information from where the photo was taken
  • Map from 2001 (center right) to map from 2018 (far right), providing more in-depth information, such as location of conservation features


Your support empowers our work to protect land across the state and help landowners be the best stewards of their land for the benefit of all. Please consider a gift to support conservation that will make a lasting impact for generations.

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