Environmental features such as wetlands, endangered and threatened species habitat, and areas of high recreational value often prevent or restrict conventional economic use. Additionally, such environmental or recreational features often confer a special obligation or standard of care. These obligations are a particular challenge for trust land managers who, as trustees, have a fiduciary duty to generate revenues each year from those lands. In this context, market mechanisms and incentive programs that reward trust land managers for protection and management of these sensitive environmental resources may provide benefits that meet the fiduciary responsibility of the trust, while also protecting the ecological values of the lands.
Increasingly, state and federal agencies require measures to mitigate the negative impacts new development has on ecosystem elements such as threatened species, wildlife habitat, plant communities, and water quality. Because of the unique obligation of trust land managers to require economic activity and returns for trust beneficiaries, school trust lands may be ideally situated to take advantage of the range of conservation and restoration related value propositions. These market mechanisms include wetland banking, habitat conservation banking, and carbon credits.