The Mission and Vision
Woodlands Conservancy is a 501-C-3, nonprofit organization created with the mission to preserve and develop an ecosystem dedicated to creating daily public opportunities for recreation, ecotourism and education in a natural and historic setting. The vision of Woodlands Conservancy is to be the regional model for the conservation of hardwood forests, and a leader in the advocacy and preservation of Louisiana’s coastal forest ecosystems.
Where we work
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Hundreds of millions of birds cross the gulf each year and travel along the Mississippi Flyway with 2.5 million stopping daily in Louisiana to feed and rest. Woodlands Conservancy’s managed properties provide habitat for several species of Conservation Concern per Louisiana’s comprehensive wildlife conservation strategy, the Wildlife Action Plan, and several species of Continental Importance according to Partners in Flight. USFWS reports that with the continuing loss of our wetlands in combination with relative sea level rise, the Woodlands Conservancy lands will be one of the largest forested land masses between open water and the city of New Orleans within the next 35-50 years. The value of this habitat for migratory birds makes it imperative that we preserve, restore and enhance the habitat within our few remaining coastal forests and educate our children of their value in order to foster their development as environmental stewards of the lands their children will inherit.
What is a Land Trust?
A land trust functions by protecting and conserving critical natural areas, streams, landmarks and cultural resources for current and future generations. Land trusts work with community partners to create healthy and sustainable natural environments through land donations, conservation easements, or purchases. Land trusts fall short of their mission if they fail to carry out the original intentions of the landowner.
Woodlands Conservancy manages and owns property with the goal of restoring and maintaining healthy forested wetlands and landscapes that provide the habitat for wildlife and migratory birds, protect our community by providing a critical storm buffer and providing our community with beautiful natural spaces that make Louisiana the Sportsman’s Paradise.
One of the most traditional tools for conserving private land is a Conservation Easement. An easement is a legal agreement between the landowner and the land trust that limits the uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. For example, land identified as being a critical wildlife corridor between areas of development might prohibit any development while an easement on a working farm might allow the addition of agricultural structures. An easement may apply to all or a portion of the property, and need not require public access. The land trust is responsible for ensuring that the terms of the easement are followed in perpetuity.
A Conservation Easement allows a landowner to continue to own and use their land, and they can also sell it or pass it on to heirs.
A landowner sometimes sells a conservation easement, but usually easements are donated to a land trust. If the donation benefits the public by permanently protecting important conservation resources, and meets other federal tax code requirements, it can qualify as a tax-deductible charitable donation.
Perhaps the most important benefit, a conservation easement can be essential for passing undeveloped land on to the next generation. By removing the land’s development potential, the easement typically lowers the property’s market value, which in turn lowers potential estate tax. Whether the easement is donated during life or by will, it can make a critical difference in one’s heirs’ ability to keep the land intact. (Land Trust Alliance)