The goal of the Conservation Defense Insurance is to create favorable case law, avoid unfavorable case law, defend and enforce conservation easements, protect fee-owned land, encourage practices that will help prevent violations and unnecessary litigation, support good practices, and provide the confidence and capability to uphold conservation obligations forever.
A review of Pennsylvania judicial decisions reveals that conservation easement holders and the conservation values they uphold prevail when a dispute leads to litigation. Courts respect the text of easement documents and their conservation purposes. This guide reviews eleven cases where the interpretation or enforcement of a conservation easement was at the center of litigation. 11 pages
fact sheet on specific proposed terms and conditions of LTA's conservation defense insurance program
Key takeaways from Terrafirma easement defense data between 2000 and 2011.
Achieving conservation goals in protected areas hinges on continual monitoring, enforcement, and legal defense. A national survey of land trust legal defense of conserved areas showed half of land trusts reported a legal challenge, and one-quarter of those land trusts were hindered by financial barriers in pursuing a legal challenge. Interviews with land trust staff revealed the necessary conditions for pursuing legal defense, including organizational capacity, community support, and persuasive property claims, as well as the importance of stewardship endowments and the need for greater land trust capacity and accountability.
Landowners grant conservation easements to conservation organizations (“land trusts”) in perpetuity. The conservation objectives of the easement and the associated restrictions on how land can be used are intended to be permanent. Land trusts and their allies across the nation go to great lengths to ensure this permanence. 2 pages. [Print version of WeConservePA guide]
Who can assert claims and be heard in Pennsylvania’s courts if a dispute heats up over the management of a conservation easement?
Occasionally a land trust will seek to amend a conservation easement. More often, the owners of land subject to an easement will ask for an amendment. In any case, the issue of who can insert themselves into easement management matters can be compelling reason for the parties to agree to an amendment if the easement was created in Pennsylvania prior to June 22, 2001.
WeConservePA guide. 2 pages.