Standard 8: Evaluating and Selecting Conservation Projects
The land trust carefully evaluates and selects its conservation projects.
Having choices about which land protection projects to undertake may seem like a luxury. Many land protection projects are done under great time pressure; the tendency is to protect now, think later. Sometimes that is inevitable. Yet unless the land trust exercises care in reviewing all of its projects, it may find itself with a property or a conservation agreement that serves little public interest, is costly to manage or defend, or does not fit with the land trust’s mission. Every land trust must find a balance between being strategic and being opportunistic. Land trusts that focus on their strategic priorities typically find that they can raise more funds and protect more land. These land trusts work with their partners to develop conservation priorities appropriate for their community. A land trust that does not prioritize and carefully select its projects may open itself to public criticism, credibility issues and even legal problems. In order for land conservation to maintain public credibility, it is essential that all land trusts carefully screen projects for the public benefit that will be provided. Once projects are selected, the land trust must determine how best to protect a given property’s resources. For each property, sufficient information must be gathered to make sound judgments and avoid unacceptable risks.
- Land Title Act, RSBC 1996, c. 250, s. 219:
- Receiver General – to hold Covenants in BC:
- Income Tax Act, SC 1985, c. I, s. 149.1 (6.3);
see also Canada Revenue Agency policy interpretations at
- Environmental Management Act, SBC 2003, c. 53, s. 40
- Contaminated Sites Regulation, BC Reg. 375/96, as am., s. 3.
- Canada Revenue Agency policy interpretation of Income Tax Act, SC 1985, c. I;
see Income Tax Technical News No. 26 at:
A. Identifying Focus Areas
The land trust has identified specific natural, cultural or geographic areas where it will focus its work and may identify priority themes or sites within those focus areas.
Land trusts must engage in various levels of conservation planning. Planning should start with a strategic or long-range plan to guide all organizational activities. In addition to or as part of such a plan, land trusts should have a land protection strategy for their region. Such a strategy goes beyond the land trust’s project selection criteria to the identification of high- priority areas or specific natural or cultural resources that meet the mission and goals of the organization. These land protection strategies go by various names (strategic conservation plans, focus area plans and so forth) and may be in the form of written descriptions, maps or notes for internal guidance. Regardless of form or name, these priority or focus areas are the places where the land trust works proactively to accomplish its conservation goals. A focus area can encompass various ecological or cultural resources and overlap political jurisdictions, but generally has some cohesive element. Examples include a small watershed, an undeveloped stretch of shoreline, a cluster of farms or ranches, a grouping of prime agricultural soils, or a specific mountain peak. A land trust may have several focus areas within its operating territory.
CLTA Assessment Questions
- Does the land trust have a land conservation plan or other document that identifies high priority areas?
- Does the land trust partner with other conservation organizations or agencies to inventory and identify special interest areas?