Georgia Conservation Tax Credit Program

The Conservation Tax Credit Act (H.B. 1107) was signed into law on April 21, 2006. The purpose of the conservation tax credit is to increase the financial incentives for a willing landowner to donate land or place a conservation easement on their property. Taxpayers can claim a credit against their state income tax of 25% of the fair market value of the donated property, up to a maximum credit of $250,000 per individual and $500,000 per corporation. The amount of the credit used in any one year may not exceed the amount of state income tax otherwise due. The property must be donated to a government entity or to a qualified non-profit organization and must meet at least one of the ten conservation goals listed in the Georgia Land Conservation Act and which include: water quality protection for rivers, streams, and lakes; flood protection; wetlands protection; reduction of erosion; protection of riparian buffers and other areas of habitat for native plant and animal species; protection of prime agricultural and forestry lands; protection of cultural sites and historic resources; scenic protection; provision of public recreation; and connection of existing or planned conservation areas. Ineligible lands include those that are already protected from development under local ordinances (e.g., stream buffers or scenic setbacks); lands that are aside in order to increase building density levels (e.g., dedicated “greenspace” within conservation subdivisions or cluster developments); and lands that are planned for or used for golf courses, soccer fields, softball fields, or other types of intensively managed recreational uses. 

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for ensuring that donated property meets these conservation goals and that the property is being donated to a qualified organization. There is no minimum or maximum size requirement. Click on the links below to learn more about the conservation tax credit program or apply for it.

UPDATE:  H.B. 1274 was recently signed into law by Governor Perdue on 4/24/08. This new legislation amends the Conservation Tax Credit in the following ways:

  • The donated portion of a discounted sale of land or of a perpetual conservation easement now qualifies for the tax credit.
  • The carry forward for unused credits is extended from 5 to 10 years.
  • Donations to the federal government qualify for the tax credit.
  • Fair market value is now determined by a qualified appraisal, and not the county tax assessor.  New penalties are defined for appraisers who make substantial value misstatements.
  • Members of a partnership are eligible for a total tax credit (in aggregate) of up to $1 million. Individuals are still limited to $250,000 and corporations to $500,000.
  • If a parcel of land is subdivided but remains under one ownership, only one qualified donation may be made in a given year.
  • The Board of Natural Resources will promulgate rules to better define conservation purposes.  Previously, conservation purposes where defined by those 10 goals within the Land Conservation Act

Note - these changes apply only to donations made after January 1, 2008.

Georgia Conservation Tax Credit Program Frequently Asked Questions 
What are the minimum requirements for eligibility under the Georgia Conservation Tax Credit Program (GCTCP)?

What other factors are taken into consideration by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Department) in deciding whether or not to certify a donation?

What types of land are not eligible for certification under this program?

Are there circumstances in which a government entity (federal, state, county, or municipal) will not accept a property proposed for donation?

Is there a minimum or maximum number of acres that must be donated before the property becomes eligible for this program?

Does certification under this program provide automatic eligibility for other financial incentive programs supporting conservation uses?

Is there an appeal process if the landowner’s property is deemed ineligible for certification under this program?

I cannot afford everything required for the application. Will DNR offer help if the land is considered suitable for conservation purposes?

Can the Department provide me with an estimate of the income tax credit that would result from a conservation donation?

Who is responsible for determining the value of the state income tax credit?

Will the Department provide a list of “qualified organizations” that can create a conservation plan and/or hold and monitor conservation easements?

If the property being considered for donation includes structures that are in use, such as a home, barn, or storage building, will the property owner be permitted to continue such use after a conservation easement is placed on the property?

If my land has significant natural resources as well as historic features and structures, can I include permanent protection for all of these resources in one conservation easement?

Is a conservation easement that allows future development eligible for consideration under this program?

Is a conservation easement that allows future subdivision of property eligible for consideration under this program?

Does donation of a conservation easement or restrictive covenant require the landowner to provide public access?

What is pre-certification, and how does it differ from certification?

How do I apply for pre-certification or certification?

When will I hear from the Department on my application?

Eligible Conservation Purposes

The following conservation purposes are considered eligible for certification under the Georgia Conservation Tax Credit Program. The descriptions of lands that support these conservation purposes are provided for illustrative purposes, and are not intended to represent an exhaustive list of eligible lands under this program, nor can they be interpreted to represent, affect, or control the Department’s determination on any particular application.
A. Water quality, protection for rivers, streams, and lakes: Land that protects water quality, in addition to the protection of natural buffers described in (E), can include properties adjacent to rivers, lakes and streams that filter pollutants and decrease sediment loads, as well as maintaining natural water temperature regimes.

B. Flood protection: Land that provides flood protection includes natural land or water features that help protect adjacent or downstream properties by reducing or ameliorating the impacts of floods. Examples include undeveloped floodplains, sloughs, oxbow lakes, bluffs, and natural river levees.

C. Wetlands protection: Land that consists primarily of wetlands either verified by the Corps of Engineers as jurisdictional wetlands or ecologically significant isolated wetlands, and upland areas adjacent to wetlands that provide a vegetated buffer.

D. Reduction of erosion through protection of steep slopes, areas with erodible soils, and stream banks: Land with high erosion potential due to steep slopes or soil types that if conserved would reduce erosion and protect water quality.

E. Protection of riparian buffers and other areas that serve as natural habitat and corridors for native plant and animal species: Includes intact riparian buffers along rivers and streams, as well as non-riparian areas, that provide significant conservation value as wildlife corridors and habitat for native plants and animals.

F. Protection of prime agricultural and forestry lands: Prime agricultural land is land that currently is in agricultural uses other than forestry, and is managed in a manner consistent with a conservation plan prepared in consultation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the US Department of Agriculture and approved by the local conservation district. The conservation plan shall be developed using the standards and specifications of the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) and 7 C.F.R. Part 12 that are in effect as of the date of conveyance. The Applicant may develop and implement a conservation plan that proposes a higher level of conservation and is consistent with the NRCS FOTG standards and specifications. Prime forestry land is land in an undeveloped condition where forestry use provides a high quality water supply, clean air, improved timber, and wildlife habitat for a variety of game and non-game species, and may also provide recreational or scenic benefits.

G. Protection of cultural sites, heritage corridors, and archaeological and historic resources: Land that contains Archaeological and Historic Resources (listed in or eligible for listing in the Georgia Register of Historic Places); land that contains places of national and/or state FAQ – Georgia Conservation Tax Credit 7 Revised 6.12.08 significance where natural, cultural, historic, and scenic resources combine to form a cohesive, distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography.

H. Scenic protection: Land that contains significant scenic resources, including designated statewide resources such as scenic rivers, scenic highways or Georgia by-ways.

I. Provision of public recreation in the form of boating, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, running, jogging, biking, walking, and similar outdoor activities: Land that is suitable for low-intensity or dispersed recreational uses such as boating, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, running, jogging, biking, walking, and similar outdoor activities. Land intended for active uses such as golf, soccer, baseball, construction of lakes, etc. is not eligible.

J. Connection of existing or planned areas contributing to the goals set out in this paragraph: Land that provides connectivity to existing conservation lands or is in close proximity to other designated statewide resources such as scenic rivers, scenic highways or Georgia byways, state or national parks, natural areas, wildlife management areas, wilderness areas, national natural landmarks, or properties listed on the Georgia Register of Historic Places.

Contact Georgia Conservation Tax Credit Program

Chris Canalos
GA Land Conservation Program & GA Conservation Tax Credit Program
2065 US Highway 278 SE
Social Circle, Georgia  30025-4743
Phone: 770-918-6411
Fax: 706-557-3033


Service Area

Statewide Program in:
  • Georgia

Office Locaters

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator