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“Support received from Parks in Peril has been decisive and essential in achieving the creation of the Mesoamerican Network of Private Nature Reserves, which brings together all key stakeholders working on private lands conservation in Central America’s seven countries, forming a network with the capacity to influence policy and manage activities at the local and regional level.”
Berta Medrano, Board Member, Network of Private Nature Reserves of El Salvador
Private lands conservation is an innovative tactic that leverages the increasing interest of the private sector to take part in conservation. The approach is important because many biologically important lands occur outside of government systems of protected areas, and many private properties are important to establish corridors among established reserves to allow isolated populations of threaten species to interact. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Parks in Peril applies many of the tools used elsewhere in the Conservancy, working with landowners, communities, cooperatives and businesses to establish local groups that can protect land. Some of the main tools used to achieve these goals include land trusts, conservation easements, private reserves and incentives.
Photo: gypsum dunes, Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico © Colleen Marzec/TNC
Parks in Peril is protecting biodiversity through direct land acquisition (i.e., purchase) by local organizations or by working with landowners to place voluntary conservation easements on their properties, restricting development. A conservation easement is a restriction placed on a piece of property to protect its associated resources. The easement is either voluntarily donated or sold by the landowner and constitutes a legally binding agreement that limits certain types of uses or prevents development from taking place on the land in perpetuity while the land, itself, remains in private hands. Conservation easements protect land for future generations while allowing owners to retain many private property rights and to live on and use their land, at the same time potentially providing them with tax benefits. Today conservation easements are one of the most popular conservation tools employed by land trusts.
With a few exceptions, the Conservancy does not normally hold title to land outside the United States. In some cases, PiP must first work with local organizations to study the legal foundation for private lands conservation, often establishing how local laws can provide incentives for landowners who participate in conservation, such as income or property tax deductions. In Costa Rica, PiP helped landowners in the Talamanca Biological Corridor to participate in a program whereby the government of Costa Rica paid certain landowners for managing their lands according to conservation management plans. Currently, in addition to supporting important private lands action in a number of countries, PiP is supporting an effort to develop international standards and procedures for private lands conservation.
Read more about Private Lands Conservation in Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico