New Approaches to Conservation Law
AbstractConservation covenants (or easements) involve landowners agreeing that the use of their land will be restricted in some way so as to further conservation. Such agreements are binding not just on the original party but on future landowners as well, potentially in perpetuity. Covenants can act as a conservation device in their own right or as a means of giving legal shape to the obligations underlying arrangements for the payment for ecosystem services or biodiversity offsetting. Such schemes operate as a matter of private law, and design issues to be addressed include how such agreements can be enforced; the duration of such covenants; the extent to which they can be modified or terminated (by the parties alone, through the involvement of a public body or subject to some form of external scrutiny); and how best to draft such agreements to cope with our increasingly dynamic environment. Lessons can be learnt from current proposals in England and experience in the United States, where the shape of easements is affected by the desire to attract charitable status and hence tax relief.
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