Standard 11: Conservation Agreement Stewardship
The land trust has a program of responsible stewardship for its conservation agreements.
A land trust that accepts and holds conservation agreements commits itself to their annual stewardship in perpetuity, to enforcement of their terms, and to building positive landowner and community relationships to support the land trust’s conservation programs and enforcement actions. A land trust that fails to do so may eventually lose its credibility, could cause its conservation agreement program to be invalidated, may erode public confidence in conservation agreements, and ultimately risk the protection of the land. Not all land trusts have the capacity to hold conservation agreements in perpetuity and may achieve their conservation goals through partnerships with other organizations, fee ownership or other conservation methods. These practices will help ensure that the important conservation values protected by conservation agreements are sustained over time.
- Society Act, RSBC 1996, c. 433, s. 27.
- Canada Corporations Act, RSC 1970, c. C-32.
- Income Tax Act, SC 1985, c. I, s. 149.1 (6.3);
see also Canada Revenue Agency policy interpretations at
- Expropriation Act, RSBC 1996, c. 125.
- Expropriation Act, SC 1996, c. E-21.
- Property Law Act, RSBC 1996, c. 377, s. 35.
- Land Title Act, RSBC 1996, c. 250, s. 218-223.
- Employment Standards Act, RSBC 1996, c. 113.
- Workers Compensation Act, RSBC 1996, c. 492.
- Human Rights Code, RSBC 1996, c. 210.
- Canada Pension Plan, c. C-8.
- Employment Insurance Act, SC 1996, c. 23.
- Society Act, RSBC 1996, c. 433.
- Canada Corporations Act, RSC 1970, c. C-32.
A. Funding Conservation Agreement Stewardship
The land trust determines the long-term stewardship and enforcement expenses of each conservation agreement transaction and secures the dedicated or operating funds to cover current and future expenses. If funds are not secured at or before the completion of the transaction, the land trust has a plan to secure these funds and has a policy committing the funds to this purpose. (See 6G.)
This practice emphasizes the need to review immediate and long-term costs of conservation agreement holding, and to secure operating and/or dedicated funds to carry out the land trust’s obligations. A land trust should perform a calculation for every transaction to determine the funding needed for stewardship and enforcement, or determine a standard fee to assess for every conservation agreement. The land trust should then collect these fees or raise the necessary funds for each conservation agreement, or ensure that it has a steady source of operating income to cover these costs. Land trusts should be able to fund their annual stewardship costs and have enough funding in place to at least initiate an enforcement action, if not pay for it completely. Specifically restricted funds should be placed in a designated fund or funds (see 6G.) If a land trust does not have adequate funds for stewardship and enforcement, it should have a fundraising strategy and a board policy committing the funds for this purpose, and be able to demonstrate progress toward meeting the goals of the strategy.
Like all Canadian charities, land trusts must spend 80% of their charitable receipts on charitable activities in each year. Charities that exceed the 80% mark in their expenditures may carry the excess forward up to five years or back one year to offset a shortfall. Fundraising expenses are not included as charitable activities (see 5A). Funds applied to endowment funds or other dedicated funds that are established to earn interest over the long term are not included as charitable activities by the Canadian Revenue Agency. Therefore, land trusts who wish to develop these types of funds must either do so by using less than 20% of their incoming receipts, or by carrying over an excess into a future year, or by receiving funds through a bequest (considered exempt by CRA) or by having donors direct funds into a gift that must be retained by the organization for 10 years.
BC Assessment Questions
- What is the standard stewardship endowment amount that a land trust includes for each property acquired; for each conservation covenant. Is this amount based on the size of the property/covenant and the management risks?
CLTA Assessment Questions
- DOES THE LAND TRUST HOLD CONSERVATION AGREEMENTS?
If no, skip to Standard 12;
- How many conservation agreements does the land trust hold?
- How many acres?
- Are the land trust’s stewardship funds adequate for current and future stewardship responsibilities?
- Does the land trust have sufficient funding to cover the cost of a litigated enforcement case (average 1999 cost in Canada was $40,000)?
- Does the land trust determine the long-term stewardship and enforcement expenses for each conservation agreement or apply a standard fee?
- Does the land trust have a policy requiring a stewardship contribution for every conservation agreement?
- If the land trust does not secure funding for each conservation agreement, describe the land trust’s policies and procedures for securing stewardship funds: