On June 25th, 2016, Law No. 20,930 that establishes the environmental conservation right was published in the Official Gazzette. The purpose of this law is to create a mechanism to simplify and promote the participation of private parties in the conservation of the environment, as a complement to the work done by the State in these matters.
This right has its origin in Comparative Law. The United States of America includes within its legislation the conservation easement as a voluntary mechanism that allows a land owner to destine a piece of land for conservation, without losing its property. Likewise, in 1992, Costa Rica included in its legislation a similar figure and by now, there are more than three thousand hectares of private property that are protected through this mechanism.
Law No. 20,930 defines the environmental conservation right as “a right that consists in the aptitude for preserving the environmental heritage of a land or its attributes and characteristics”, and underlines that it shall be constituted “by a voluntary decision of the owner of the land1 in benefit of a specific person or legal entity”.
This environmental conservation right may have as a titleholder any public/private person or legal entity, that differs from the original owner.
The way this right is constituted is by means of a contract, by public deed, signed by the land owner and the new titleholder. According to the law, this contract must, at least, have one of the following conditions:
- Forbiddance or restriction to destine the land to real estate business, commerce, tourism, industry, and other purposes.
- Obligation to assume or hire maintenance, decontamination, repair and administrative or other services destined to the rational use of the land.
- Obligation to execute and supervise the management plan established in the contract for the proper and rational use of the natural resources of the land.
This right takes an interest for every third party that desires to promote conservation actions towards the environmental heritage, such as (i) the owner of the land of the contract and/or (ii) the new titleholder, for the development of preservation activities.