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:
G. Evaluating the Best Conservation Tool
The land trust works with the landowner to evaluate and select the best conservation tool for the property and takes care that the chosen method can reasonably protect the property’s important conservation values over time. This evaluation may include informing the landowner of appropriate conservation tools and partnership opportunities, even those that may not involve the land trust, including Ecological Gifts and split-receipt sales. Land trusts that do not intend to hold Ecological Gifts should inform landowners about the Ecological Gifts Program and, if necessary, direct interested landowners to other qualified conservation organizations.
Land trusts have a wide array of options for structuring transactions. From the point of view of how the resources are protected, there are certain major considerations, including; Is fee ownership or a conservation agreement preferable? To what extent may development or other uses of the property be allowed? Can the land trust undertake the required long-term monitoring, management and enforcement responsibilities? How can the property’s important conservation values best be maintained?
These are judgments that a land trust, in partnership with the landowner, makes on a case- by-case basis—and that are most often determined through the project planning process described above. Whatever the ultimate strategy, the approach should reasonably ensure long-term protection for the important conservation values found on the property. The land trust and the landowner will be well served in the long run if the land trust informs the landowner of the array of feasible and realistic conservation options available, including those provided by other organizations and agencies, so that the landowner clearly understands his or her options and willingly chooses to engage in the specific protection strategy offered by the land trust.
CLTA Assessment Questions
- The land trust considers the following in its evaluation (check all that apply):
- Whether fee simple (see definitions, page 42) or a conservation agreement is the best way to protect the conservation values
- Whether development or other uses of the property should be allowed, why and to what extent
- Alternatives more financially advantageous for the landowner (e.g., conservation agreement purchase program of another conservation organization if the land trust only accepts donations)
- Alternatives that better suit the land (e.g., an organization that will accept the property in fee simple if the land trust only accepts conservation agreements)
Resources: Example Policies & Template Documents
- ITF NAPTEP Standard Covenant
- CCLT Covenant Description Website
- LTABC Restrictive vs Statutory Covenants
- Land Title Act Section 99
- LTABC Developer Info Kit 07
- Stewardship Options SS
HAT Stewardship Options
- TLC MoU Life Estate
- HAT Acquistion Donation Options
- HAT Development Incentives
- LTABC Covenant Brochure
- ITF NAPTEP Application Guide
- ITF Conservation of Culturally Significant Areas
- ITF Conservation Proposal Form
- TNC Easements Myths
- ITF NAPTEP Letter To Applicants
- Full Title vs Cons Agrmt Attridge
- ITF Policy Conservation Covenants
- HAT Fed Prov Conservation Options
- ITF NAPTEP Regulation
- SSIC Covenants Flyer
- GLT Options for Protecting Land
- ITF NAPTEP Application Form
- TLC Life Estate Covenant Template
- LTABC BC Lands In Trust Registry Gap Analysis
- Conserving with care Austen SS05
- VLT Productive Timberlands Easements