MSU professor wins USDA grant to examine economic questions surrounding conservation easements

联系人: 梅格·亨德森  

outside portrait of Changyou "Edwin" Sun
Changyou “Edwin” Sun (Photo by David Ammon)

斯塔克维尔,小姐.—Understanding how land use limitations imposed by conservation easements impact landowners and the public is the topic of new research by a Mississippi State professor in the 大学 of 森林资源.

乔治·L. Switzer Professor of Forestry Changyou Sun收到了600美元,000 grant award from the Agriculture and Food 研究 Initiative, the USDA’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural science.

Sun is receiving the highly competitive award for the research proposal “Economic Analysis of Property Rights Encumbered by Forest Conservation Easements.” Collaborating with two economists and a law professor from the University of Georgia, Sun and the research team will scrutinize the legal and economic ramifications of restricting property rights on actively managed forests through conservation easements.

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency designed to achieve environmental conservation goals by permanently restricting how the owner may use the land.

“The major motivations for each stakeholder are different, but they come together to reach an agreement,“太阳说. “For landowners, a conservation easement can provide direct payment or tax benefits. To a conservation institute or government agency, these agreements foster non-market outputs such as carbon sequestration, water conservation or wildlife protection.”

在过去的三十年里, conservation easements have become an innovative and effective instrument to protect forest land held by 私人 owners. 截至2015年,1.75 percent or about 13 million acres of all forest land in the U.S. was permanently protected under a conservation easement. Sun estimates the current number to be about 2 percent.

“The practice of conservation easements has been in place for the last 30 years,“太阳说. “However, studies on the economics have lagged behind. That’s why we want to do more research.”

Sun found that past studies have not fully addressed some important economic questions—having paid little attention to the unique features of working forests—especially irregular and uncertain timber revenues from multiple growth cycles. 同样的, the body of research on conservation easements from a legal standpoint has much room to expand. The grant will allow the researchers to explore these topics in greater depth, applying various economic theories and models to arrive at new knowledge and insight.

MSU’s Forest and Wildlife 研究 Center will analyze disputes between landowners and NGOs or government agencies.

“While the percentage of legal disputes over conservation easements is small, 他们仍然有成千上万,“太阳说. “We want to determine what has changed in the landowner-agency relationship and how these disputes have been resolved.”

The study’s findings then will help the team make recommendations to improve the management of existing easement contracts and the design of future conservation easements.

“Providing better information upfront will prevent pitfalls in these relationships and, 因此, 未来的诉讼,“太阳说.

“We anticipate the application of this knowledge will improve solutions to support forest landowners, improving both environmental conservation and the sustainable growth of forest and rural communities,”他说.

For more information on MSU’s Department of Forestry in the 大学 of 森林资源, visit www.病死率 Find the Forest and Wildlife 研究 Center at

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