“Conservation Banking” is a term that describes the long-term strategy of buying environmentally sensitive land and withdrawing it from development by shortening the planning process or simply not complying with various regulations. The idea is that after acquiring tracts of land at risk of being developed, they are held in perpetuity and removed from local, state, and federal regulatory channels.

This allows for much quicker timeframes for approval and sidestepping costly fees and requirements for normal permitting processes. Conservation Banks can provide affordable development options for landowners looking to preserve their property through this method.


  1. Conservation Banks create a win-win solution for landowners and the local community; the landowner can protect the property while the municipality and the local community use a portion of the revenue to fund school projects, trails, and other infrastructure needs.
  2. Conservation Banks create financially viable solutions for landowners seeking to preserve their property.
  3. Conservation Banks allow landowners to take some of the equity gained by development and use it elsewhere without ceding ownership or lease rights of their land.
  4. Conservation Banks can work with local municipalities to secure funding for permits, incentives, zoning, and even infrastructure costs. It can reduce the land’s overall development cost, allowing for more affordable housing options.
  5. Conservation Banks can reduce the time and costs associated with development by taking land out of the normal permitting process and expediting the development process.
  6. Conservation Banks can be used as a mitigation tool for existing development. Conservation banking programs have been used to facilitate impacts on sensitive aquatic habitats to protect wetlands and streams while still allowing for other uses of that area.


  1. Conservation Banks is currently considered a local, grassroots movement and has not received funding from the federal government or private investment sources. It means there is no central governing body or uniformity in banks’ practices.
  2. Because Conservation Banks do not work with real estate agents and developers, landowners must be aware of their community’s development processes to ensure that their property is included in potential plans for development in the future.
  3. Because Conservation Banks do not provide in-depth financial analysis, the landowners should be cautious about the potential for overpayment for land with little or no income.

Conservation Banking is a relatively new concept in the United States. Many people have questions about how it will work and what it can do for their community or the environment. While the benefits are clear, there are numerous concerns about how sustainability will be achieved and how to ensure that landowners are getting good value for their investments.