After listening to a presentation by the Northeast Florida Land Trust, a group dedicated to acquiring land and conservation easements to further preservation, I left with a thought. Could we use a program, like iTree, to value canopy and offer individual specimin tree conservation easements for developers, as a way to preserve larger trees, while giving a tax benefit to the responsible developer? I know conservation shouldn’t require payment, but finding a way to value preservation in a way other than as board feet might go a lot further. If a giant canopy tree has a value of $20,000 or $30,000, offering an offset to the cost of developing, would it work? Legislation is already being proposed to lengthen the carry forward deduction for conservation easements. Doesn’t it make sense to look for the value to a community and allow that value as individual tree conservation easements? Developers and conservation wins, without the conflict?
With pressures from developers, could this be another way to preserve mature canopy “AND” remain consistent with “no net tree loss”?