The article is based on the contribution, which appeared in the PARKS, Vol. 15. No. 2, 2005 issued by the IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature.
It presents legal status of land trusts in the U.S.A., where they are a traditional important part within nature conservation and landscape protection system. The authors pay special attention to a significant legal tool often used by land trusts – conservation easements. Land trusts have significantly contributed to natural and cultural heritage preservation and to habitat restoration. In some U. S. states, they influence land-use/spatial planning policy and conserve a high proportion of lands. Today there are more than 1,600 independent private bodies in the United States which conserve and manage almost 15 million hectares of lands. Conservation easements represent a voluntary act on the part of the land owner: a land can be donated to the third person with rights to prohibit some activities on the land (e.g., house building, mining, specifying felling planning, etc.). Under the laws, such a donation gives rise to many tax advantages. An alternative to donating the rights of using a land is easement purchase. Over the last 30 years, two billion USD have been spent at the state level alone to acquire purchased easements, conserving over 550,000 hectares of primarily agricultural land. The advantage of conservation easement is that it separates reaching nature conservation targets from the landowner. In addition, easement purchase is often much cheaper than purchase of the particular land. The disadvantage of the procedure is that reaching nature conservation goals depends exclusively on the easement owner. In the Czech Republic, there has not been a legal tool similar to the U.S. conservation easement. From a legal point of view, the landowner can be obliged to reduce or avoid some activities on his land. Nevertheless, these efforts often collide with the Land Register/Cadastre Office opposition, which refuse to register such easements, considering them as indefinite and to be hardly enforced.