The National Trust in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland is one of the oldest and most revered private land conservation organizations in the world. While the private land conservation movements in the United States and the United Kingdom began at a similar time and with similar tools, conservation attitudes and methods in the two countries diverged. Today, the National Trust dominates land conservation in the U.K. while the strength of the U.S. movement is the energy of over 1,500 smaller organizations operating at different scales across the country. Despite the differences, this project looks to the National Trust in England and concludes that three elements of the National Trust’s experience provide important insights for U.S. land trusts rethinking their programs as political and environmental change engulfs the planet. First, the National Trust has gone through several iterations in its understanding of general public benefit and public access to protected properties in a way that most U.S. land trusts have yet to do. Second, National Trust experience suggests that U.S. land trusts could become more engaged in land-use regulations rather than presenting themselves primarily as an alternative (private, compensated, voluntary) thereto. Finally, the National Trust’s approaches to balancing agricultural productivity with sustainability provide useful models to study and emulate in the management of working landscapes. Many of the lessons learned by the National Trust could enrich private land conservation in the United States in an era of government withdrawal from environmental protection and growing impacts of climate change.

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