What are Conservation Easements?
Conservation easements (CEs) are a voluntary, legal tool established by the Alberta Land Stewardship Act. They are a contract between a landowner and a qualified organization such as Legacy Land Trust Society. Both parties promise the land will be managed to ensure that the valued features (such as natural grasslands, forests, and healthy soil and water) are conserved.
Land with a conservation easement is still owned by the landowner and can be sold or gifted. The landowner and Legacy now partner to maintain the land’s valued features as outlined in the agreement. The conservation easement remains on the title to the property, regardless of who owns it.
While there are common elements in all the agreements, each conservation easement is specific to the particular property and its owner. As a result each conservation easement is assigned a Fair Market Value (FMV). The landowner is then compensated for that FMV, usually in the form of a tax receipt and sometimes with a small cash payment.
Donated conservation easements that meet ecological certification requirements according to Environment and Climate Change Canada are eligible for increased tax benefits through the Ecological Gifts Program. You’ll find more information about potential tax benefits here: