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Conservation Defense Liability Insurance

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The Land Trust Alliance announced the official birth of Terrafirma Risk Retention Group LLC on April 18, 2011. The Land Trust Alliance then obtained tax exempt status for Terrafirma, obtained the necessary insurance license and registrations, raised over $4 million in capital, and launched the official Terrafirma website at

Terrafirma began its first policy year on March 1, 2013 and is now in it's second policy year.  Currently, over 450 land trusts are members and policy-holders. 

Land trusts interested in obtaining coverage for conservation easements, trail easements, or properties owned outright can apply online during the enrollment period, which starts in fall and ends on February 1 each year. The first-time sign up process is detailed and includes a registration fee. However, information is saved from year to year and the registration fee is only paid once - so next year’s application should be much easier.

Participating land trusts pay an annual fee of $60 per property for coverage. Accredited land trusts and land trusts with senior personnel trained in risk management qualify for significant discounts on the annual fees.

Policies cover up to $500,000 in legal fees annually to defend the threatened conservation values of easements and conserved lands.  Because land trusts have committed to protect the conservation values of their properties, their liability begins as soon as those values are threatened - whether by third party trespass, landowner violation, or government action. Therefore, unlike other liability insurances, Terrafirma coverage begins before the land trust is sued. If necessary, Terrafirma can even cover the initiation of a lawsuit against the party injuring the property.

Terrafirma was formed by the Land Trust Alliance in 2011 to help land trusts defend their conserved lands from legal challenges. It is owned by its members to insure the costs of upholding conservation easements and fee lands held for conservation purposes when they have been violated or are under legal attack, and to provide information to those land trusts on risk management. This is the first far-reaching, national initiative to ensure the permanence of conservation undertaken by the land conservation community. This insurance program is a ‘risk retention group,’ a mutual insurance arrangement whose business is limited to insuring its members, all of whom are members of the Land Trust Alliance.

Many thanks for supporting this idea by committing your land trust to participate in this program. You have helped make history!

Insurance Forms

Organizational Documents

Conservation Defense Insurance Background


Webinar Archive

  • Preparing Your Land Trust to Manage Risk Effectively: May 24, 2012
  • Preparing Your Land Trust to Manage Risk Effectively: April 10, 2012
    View the slides.
  • Preparing Your Land Trust to Manage Risk Effectively: April 12, 2012
    View the slides.

View the risk management Collection on The Learning Center.

The Learning Center is a service offered to Alliance member land trusts, partners, and individual members at the $250 level and above.

Questions? We have the answers.

How Much Has Your State Committed?

Congratulations and thanks to the 463 land trusts from 47 states and D.C. who committed 18,411 conservation easements and fee owned parcels to the proposed conservation defense insurance program.

Remember: Accreditation is not necessary in order to participate.  This program is open to all land trusts.  And as we proceed with raising the $4 million in capital, we will seek these funds from foundations and major donors, not from land trusts.

For more information, call or write to Leslie Ratley-Beach, Land Trust Alliance Conservation Defense Director at or 802-262-6051.  We are all in this together and are stronger for it!

Crunch the numbers- insurance program costs




Portfolio of 15

Portfolio of 150

Not accredited, but qualified for discounts








Not accredited and no discount




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Why We Committed

Watch a brief video interview with Stan Lilley, Executive Director of the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy in Michigan:  "Why We Committed To Conservation Defense Insurance."


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