Targeted Land Protection

Targeted Land Protection is a term that broadly encompasses all of the conservation activities undertaken to protect targeted ecosystem components, such as forests and grasslands.

Targeted Land Protection is typically undertaken as a preventative measure that reduces the risk of adverse environmental impacts in the future, such as through increased sediment or nutrient loadings that may result from changing land uses. Accordingly, these types of conservation activities differ from those that are focused on reducing the current annual loading of pollutant.

A few examples of the types of activities that may be implemented under Targeted Land Protection include:

  • Purchase of easements

    Conservation easements are one of the most powerful, effective tools available for the permanent conservation of private lands. A conservation easement is a restriction placed on a piece of property to protect its associated resources. The easement is either voluntarily donated or sold by the landowner and constitutes a legally binding agreement that limits certain types of uses or prevents development from taking place on the land in perpetuity while the land remains in private hands.
  • Land rental

    Land may be rented from private owners in order to achieve conservation objectives. The owner of the land will continue to profit from the payments provided to rent the land.
  • Conservation agreements

    These may be constituted as an agreement between a government and a person for the protection and conservation of a targeted ecosystem. These agreements are usually legally binding.
  • Hiring park guards or regulatory enforcement mechanism

    This may involve the payment of park guards to protect a specific area by providing educational programs, outreach to communities, and enforce conservation regulations that will maintain watershed services and mitigate human activities that could have adverse impacts.


  1. Open Space Conservation and the US Forest Service

    Open space, valued for natural processes and wildlife, agricultural and forest production, aesthetic beauty, and other public benefits, is being threatened by current patterns of growth, including low-density development.

    Learn more
  2. Private Forest, Housing Growth, and America’s Water Supply

    America’s private forests provide a vast array of public goods and services, including abundant, clean surface water. Forest loss and development can affect water quality and quantity when forests are removed and impervious surfaces, such as paved roads, spread across the landscape. We rank watersheds across the conterminous United States according to the contributions of private forest land to surface drinking water and by threats to surface water from increased housing density. Private forest land contributions to drinking water are greatest in the East but are also important in Western watersheds.

    Learn more
  3. Land Trust Alliance Standard #8 Evaluating and Selecting Conservation Projects

    This webpage outlines how Land Trust should be focusing strategically on projects that successfully provide public benefits.

    Learn more
  4. USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program: 5-Year Strategic Direction

    The document outlines four strategic priorities, as well as goals, actions, and performance measurements to provide a benchmark for FLP progress. The priorities are: Promote the Strategic Conservation of Private Forests. Conserve Private Forests that Provide Environmental and Economic Benefits to People and Communities. Slow the Conversion and Parcelization of Environmentally and Economically Important Private Forests. Continually Improve FLP Business Practices

    Learn more
  5. Chesapeake Bay Riparian Handbook

    A Guide for Establishing and Maintaining Riparian Forest Buffers

    Learn more
  6. Riparian Forest Buffers

    Formation and Design for Protection and Enhancement for Water Resources

    Learn more