What is a Land Trust?
A land trust is a nonprofit organization that works to conserve land by, mostly by buying or accepting
donations of land or conservation easements.
What does a land trust do?
Local and regional land trusts, organized as charitable organizations under federal tax laws, are
directly involved in conserving land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical and productive
values. Land trusts can buy land for permanent protection, or they may use one of several other
methods: accept donations of land or the funds to purchase land, accept a bequest, or accept the
donation of a conservation easement, which permanently limits the type and scope of development
that can take place on the land. Land trust might also buy conservation easements.
Are land trusts government agencies?
No, they are independent organizations that work with landowners who are interested in protecting
open space. But land trusts often work cooperatively with government agencies by acquiring or
managing land, researching open space needs and priorities, or helping to develop open space
What are the advantages of working with a land trust?
Land trusts are closely tied to the communities where they operate. Moreover, land trusts' nonprofit
tax status brings them a variety of tax benefits. Donations of land, conservation easements or
money may qualify you for income, estate or gift tax savings. And because they are private
organizations, land trusts can be more flexible and creative than public agencies - and can act
more quickly - in saving land.
I first heard about land trusts just a few years ago. Are they new?
Not at all! A very few land trusts have already celebrated their centennials, but most are much
younger. In 1950, for example, just 53 land trusts operated in 26 states. Today, more than 1,300
land trusts operate across the country, serving every state in the nation. The Northeast, home of the
first land trust, still has the most land trusts - 497, according to the Land Trust Alliance's most
What has contributed to the huge growth in the number of land trusts?
People are tremendously concerned about the unmitigated loss of open space in their own
communities. They see subdivisions supplanting the open spaces where they once walked and
hiked, and they want to know how they can gain the power to save the green spaces that make
their communities unique. So they turn to land trusts as the local entities that have been set up to