Big Gains in Voluntary Land Conservation Despite Recession

Posted on 15. Nov, 2011 by in Recent News

Land Trusts Conserve 10 Million U.S. Acres, Outpace Major Government Land Acquisition Program

Land Trusts See Increased Budgets and Endowments, Add Staff and Volunteers in Down Economy


Davidson, NC – The first census of land trusts in five years found 10 million new acres conserved nationwide since 2005, including 339,669 acres—this represents a 64% increase in acres conserved since 2005 — here in North Carolina.

The National Land Trust Census, released by the Land Trust Alliance, shows that voluntarily protected land increased 27 percent between 2005 and 2010. In the same time period, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, a major federal conservation program, added just over 500,000 acres and saw a 38% funding cut. The census is online at

A total of 47 million acres—an area over twice the size of all the national parks in the contiguous United States—are now protected by land trusts. A greater percentage of the new acreage comes through local and state land trusts like Davidson Lands Conservancy. In North Carolina, land trusts conserved over 130,000 acres between 2005 and 2010, a 64% increase in land protected.

“Davidson residents value their land, and we are conserving it at the community level,” said Roy Alexander, Executive Director of the Davidson lands Conservancy. “We are investing in our future through green infrastructure to ensure clean water, local food and places to play for our children and for generations to come.”

In the last five years, DLC has had a direct role in the protection of 740 acres of private and publicly-owned lands, from the 8-acre Haven Hill Farm to the recent acquisition of the 243-acre former Abersham property.

An enhanced tax deduction for conservation easement donations has helped America’s land trusts work with farmers, ranchers and other modest-income landowners to sustain a remarkable pace of more than one million acres protected by conservation easements each year!  But if Congress allows this incentive to expire at the end of 2011, fewer landowners will receive tax benefits from the generous donation of development rights on their land.

Other findings of the new National Land Trust Census include:

  • Land trusts saw a 70% increase in volunteers from the previous 5-year period.
  • Since 2005, there are 19% more paid employees and contractors at land trusts.
  • Operating budgets for land trusts are up 36% since 2005. State and local trusts nearly tripled operating endowments in five years ensuring that land trust-protected land stays protected.
  • The preservation of family farms and ranchlands is now a priority for 61% of trusts, up from 21% that listed farmland as the top priority in 2005.
  • Urban parks, gardens or open spaces is now a priority for 27 % of trusts, a threefold increase over respondents in 2005.

About Davidson Lands Conservancy

Davidson Lands Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust that works with willing landowners to save land in the Davidson, North Carolina area in order to preserve a healthy, natural environment for future generations. DLC’s mission is to protect valuable land, educate the public about the benefits of conservation, and advocate on behalf of our ecosystems.

The Land Trust Alliance is a national conservation organization that works to save the places people love. We increase the pace of conservation, so more land and natural resources get protected. We enhance the quality of conservation, so the most important lands get protected using the best practices in the business. And we ensure the permanence of conservation by creating the laws and resources needed to defend protected land over time. The Land Trust Alliance is based in Washington, D.C.



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