A conservation easement is a land preservation agreement between a landowner and a governmental or non-profit conservation organization that places permanent limits on the future development of a property in order to protect the conservation values of the land. The easement may also specifically protect natural, scenic or historic features of the property.

Each easement is unique. The easement terms are negotiated between the landowner and a public agency or a qualified conservation organization. Except for rights explicitly given up in the easement document, the landowner continues to own, use and control the land. The landowner can still decide who has access to the property and for what purpose, just as before. An easement is a particularly useful tool for ensuring protection of the Piedmont's natural beauty because an easement lasts forever - it binds not only the current landowner, but also all subsequent owners of the property.