UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An analysis of conservation easements as a means of preserving open space Caldow, Douglas Kennedy

Abstract

Open space is one of the most important and most neglected parts of the urban fabric. The rush of rapid urbanization has consumed much land which might better have been left open to exploit its values to society for recreation, food production, flood prevention, aesthetics, and even for shaping urban development. In order for open space to fulfill these functions the use of the land must be planned in advance of development, and open land which has natural qualities that are valuable to society should be preserved. One method which is being used to preserve this land is through the use of conservation easements. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not conservation easements are an effective means of preserving open space, and which level of government is best able to use them. Therefore, the hypothesis was posed that, Conservation easements are an effective means of preserving open space, and they should be implemented by local public agencies. To reach a conclusion about this hypothesis an exhaustive review of all the available literature on the subject of conservation easements was conducted. This was followed by correspondence and interviews with representatives of several public and private bodies which were known to have been involved in the acquisition of easements, or were known to have considered the use of conservation easements. The analysis indicates that the successful use of conservation easements, their acceptance by both public officials and private landowners, and the resolution of the technical difficulties which are inevitable in the application of a developing concept, are evidence that conservation easements are an effective means of preserving open space. Furthermore, the analysis shows that various factors in the use of conservation easements mitigate for different conclusions as to which level of government can best implement them. Therefore, it is concluded that only some conservation easements should be implemented by local public agencies, and that the choice as to which level of government or private organization is most suitable should be based on a knowledge of the easement's purposes and the circumstances under which it is to be acquired and held, as well as on a knowledge of the capabilities of the various public and private bodies.

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