Landowner Goals

Goals from the Land

Landowners often rate beauty, privacy, wildlife, recreation, legacy, and a place to raise a family as reasons for owning their land. This preference for amenity over financial goals is well documented in many landowner studies. In fact, very few landowners are making a significant proportion of their annual income from their land.  

According to our survey:

  • 77% of landowners make no income from the land
  • 17% make 1-10% of their annual income from the land
  • 6% of landowners make 11-100% of their annual income from the land

Amenity goals likely play an important role in helping landowners develop a strong emotional attachment to their land. And the stronger the emotional attachment, the more likely they will be to want to conserve it. This emotional attachment can be cultivated by encouraging landowners to engage with their land in any way that speaks to their interests, including outdoor recreation, wildlife, or nontraditional forest products.

Goals from the Estate Plan

Landowners are typically trying to balance the personal goals of keeping some or all of their land undeveloped with the financial goals of providing for their own needs and being able to pass on assets to their heirs.

Based on our survey, goals that were important for landowners to achieve for the future of their land tend to cluster around three general categories:

1. Concern for future owners: 30% of landowners

  • Providing an inheritance to heirs
  • Treating heirs fairly
  • Giving the next owner a full range of options

2. Altruism: 30% of landowners

  • Protecting the environment and wildlife
  • Benefiting their community

3. Finances: 20% of landowners

  • Achieving financial security for themselves
  • Achieving financial security for heirs

Understanding the goals landowners are trying to achieve through their conservation-based estate planning can help us package programs and resources in a way that will meet their specific needs. Planning outreach that addresses the goals of particular landowners and highlights the tools that may be a good fit for these goals is a strategic way to inform these decisions. For example, providing programs on current use as a temporary approach to determining future land use may be a good fit for the Concern for Future Owners group, which wants to give the next owner options, while programs on conservation easements may be a better fit for the Altruism group.

Goals for How They are Viewed in the Future

Beyond the specific goals landowners may have regarding the future of their land, many landowners are interested in their legacy.

51% care what future generations think of them

69% want to leave a positive mark on society

Messages regarding landowner legacy, how they may be viewed by future generations, and how they can leave a positive mark on society are likely going to be effective with most landowners.