The need for standards and practices is imperative for all land trusts, regardless of where they operate. A strong land trust community depends on the long-term viability and management of its organizations. By working towards a consistent set of standards and practices, land trusts can continue to thrive and be successful in perpetuity. Land Trust Standards and Practices are the ethical and technical guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust. The U.S. Land Trust Alliance released an updated version in 2017 that was informed by conservationists and land trust professionals throughout the United States. These many voices were an invaluable asset throughout the revision process.
The Centre for Land Conservation recognizes the advantage in using such a rigorously-developed set of Standards and Practices to maintain alignment of industry practices in Canada with the most current, internationally-recognized standards. Further, the recent U.S. revision had to be tailored to the Canadian context. A 15-month consultation within the Canadian land trust community was designed to develop practices that are more readable, accessible and up-to-date.
The Centre for Land Conservation acknowledges that emerging practices, such as engagement of Indigenous communities, may not have been fully explored or resolved under this revision. The scope of the 2018 revision was limited to updating Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices as a result of the US 2017 revisions (from which Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices are both licensed and derived), as well as changes to relevant Canadian legislation. Given the very limited resources and time available to the former CLTA, the significant and emerging question of Indigenous community engagement could not be appropriately addressed at this time.
The Centre for Land Conservation recognizes that, going forward, the manner in which land trusts engage with Indigenous communities is a high priority at the governance and operational levels of work undertaken by Canadian land trusts, and should be further explored. With this in mind, the CLC encourages all Canadian land trusts to actively reach out to and engage with Indigenous partners when engaging in their land conservation activities.
While the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices are designed primarily for land trusts with charitable status, they also provide important guidance for any organization or government agency that holds lands or conservation agreements for the benefit of the public.
Implementing the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices helps land trusts uphold public trust and build strong and effective land conservation programs. Securing the confidence and support of donors and landowners is key to sustaining land trusts over the long term. This is as true for individual organizations as it is for the land trust community as a whole.