The National Conservation Easement Database (NCED) is the first national database of conservation easement information, compiling records from land trusts and public agencies throughout the United States. This public-private partnership brings together national conservation groups, local and regional land trusts, and state and federal agencies around a common objective. Currently, no single, nationwide system exists for sharing and managing information about conservation easements, making it difficult to have a good understanding of our conservation footprint. This effort helps agencies, land trusts, and other organizations plan more strategically, identify opportunities for collaboration, advance public accountability, and raise the profile of what’s happening on-the-ground in the name of conservation.
Funding for the database is provided by the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; Knobloch Family Foundation; Graham Foundation; and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Nature Conservancy with assets of $6.5 billion plus and the Land Trust Alliance with assets of almost $287 million. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U. S. Geological Survey, and the USDA U.S. Forest Service also provide funding for the database. Other organization involved in the funding are Conservation Biology Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, NatureServe, and The Trust for Public Land.
Millions of acres are being permanently encumbered with conservation easements. As of October 2014, the National Conservation Easement Database http://www.conservationeasement.us/about contained basic information on more than 105,000 conservation easements encumbering more than 22.2 million acres in the United States. But they estimate that a total of 40 million acres are actually encumbered. This information is from “An Introduction to Conservation Easements in the United States” written by Federico Cheever & Nancy A. McLaughlin, an article in Journal of Law, Property, and Society, May 2015. Defenders of Wildlife have been involved in 205 lawsuits in the last 10 years, lawsuits that have a economic impact and affect the use of land. Their partners in the lawsuits have been Center for Biological Diversity, Wildearth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and others.