D24. A donor wants to give our charity some ecologically sensitive land, but also wants to pass it on to her heirs. What does our charity do if the donor wants to maintain some connection with the land?

D24. A donor wants to give our charity some ecologically sensitive land, but also wants to pass it on to her heirs. What does our charity do if the donor wants to maintain some connection with the land?


Short answer

Although many eco-gifts are outright donations of land with no conditions (called “fee simple” donations), making such a gift does not necessarily mean severing the connection donors have with their land. There are options available.

Long answer

A conservation easement, covenant, or servitude is an agreement that is registered on title and that protects a property’s conservation value by permanently placing terms and conditions on its use that are determined by the donor. It can place limitations on subdividing, the number and location of structures, and the types of land use. Under the terms of the agreement, the donor continues to own the land and may live on it, sell it, or pass it on to heirs. The recipient ensures that the restrictions put on the property are followed in the future, regardless of who owns the land.

Whether your charity receives a fee simple donation or a donation that is a partial interest in land, in exercising your rights both you and the donor have a responsibility to maintain the biodiversity and environmental heritage of these properties in perpetuity.