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:
C. Federal and Provincial Requirements
For land and conservation agreement projects that may involve federal or provincial tax incentives, the land trust ensures that the project meets the applicable federal or provincial requirements. Projects where the donor is seeking Ecological Gift certification must be certified by Environment Canada and must meet any additional provincial requirements (see 10C).
As emphasized in Standard 10, land trusts have a responsibility to be compliant and to encourage donors to be compliant with the tax laws. In addition to the federal income tax benefits available under the Canadian Revenue Agency and Environment Canada, an increasing number of provinces are offering tax credits to land and conservation agreement donors. For projects where the land trust is asked to issue a tax receipt, the land trust ensures that these projects have met the Canadian Revenue Agency's criteria for gifts and/or Environment Canada's criteria for Ecological Gifts, any other federal or provincial requirements. Application for certification under the Ecological Gift Program is the responsibility of the donor, not the land trust. Because donors may apply for Ecological Gift certification up to three years after the donation, in circumstances where a project is not intended to be submitted under the Ecological Gifts program, the land trust and the donor should sign an agreement acknowledging this. Where necessary, land trusts should consult with outside experts.