Standard 11: Conservation Agreement Stewardship

“Land trusts have a program of responsible stewardship for their conservation agreements.”

 

Practices:

A. Funding Conservation Agreement Stewardship
  1. Estimate the long-term stewardship and enforcement expenses of each conservation agreement transaction.
  2. Track stewardship and enforcement costs.

Resources:

Budgeting Example for a single property under CEA Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2007 48 KB excel
Stewardship Guide Ontario Land Trust Alliance  2010 3,544 KB pdf
Stewardship Fund Policy Ontario Farmland Trust 2017 337 KB pdf
Stewardship Funds Report Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust 2014 105 KB pdf
Stewardship Cost Calculator Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust 2011 79 KB excel
Fact Sheet: Determining Stewardship Costs for Conservation Easement Agreements  Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2012 858 KB pdf
Fact Sheet: The Cost of Enforcement for Conservation Easement Agreements Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2012 950 KB pdf
How to Calculate the Costs of Stewardship of a Conservation Easement and the Size of the Endowment that will hopefully support it Colorado Open Lands ——– 45 KB word
Funding CA Stewardship Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust 2018 4,000 KB PowerPoint
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B. Baseline Documentation Report
  1. For each conservation agreement, have a baseline documentation report signed off by the necessary technical expert, with written descriptions, maps and photographs, that documents:
    1. The conservation values protected by the agreement.
    2. The relevant conditions of the property as necessary to monitor and enforce the agreement.
  2. Prepare the baseline documentation report prior to closing and have it signed by the landowner and land trust at or prior to closing.
    1. Baseline documentation reports that require technical data collection are prepared with the support of professional (s) having appropriate bac and expertise.
    2. In the event that seasonal conditions prevent the completion of a full baseline documentation report by closing, the landowner and land trust sign a schedule for a finalizing the full report and an acknowledgment of interim data at closing.
  3. In the limited circumstances when there are significant changes to the land (such as results of wildlife or bank erosion) or the conservation agreement (such as a result of an amendment or the exercise of a permitted right), document those changes in an appropriate manner, such as through monitoring reports, a baseline supplement or current conditions report.
  4. The landowner and the land trust each hold at least one original copy of the signed baseline documentation report.

Resources:

Annotated Baseline Documentation Report Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2006 577 KB pdf
The Baseline Documentation Report (Guide) Ontario Land Trust Alliance / Ontario Heritage Trust 2006 773 KB pdf
Conservation Easement Drafting & Documentation: Chapter 3 (BDR) Land Trust Alliance 2008 1,872 KB pdf
Baseline Documentation Report – Fact Sheet Ontario Land Trust Alliance  2012 880 KB pdf
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C. Conservation Agreement Compliance Monitoring
  1. Adopt a written policy and/or procedure for compliance monitoring of conservation agreements that establishes consistent monitoring protocols and recordkeeping procedures.
  2. Monitor each conservation agreement property at least once per calendar year.
    1. If the land trust uses aerial monitoring, conduct on-the-ground monitoring at least once every five years.
    2. Promptly document the outcomes of annual compliance monitoring activities for each conservation agreement, including communications to and from owners of conservation agreement properties.
    3. Conduct on-the-ground verification in a timely manner for any suspected violation or breach of conservation agreements.

Resources:

Conservation Easement Monitoring Report – Template Ontario Land Trust Alliance ——————- 72 KB word
Conservation Easement Monitoring – Fact Sheet Ontario Land Trust Alliance  2012 591 KB pdf
Monitoring of Protected Properties Ontario Farmland Trust 2019 1,275 KB pdf
Property Record – Template Ontario Farmland Trust ————————– 56 KB pdf
Monitoring Visit Report – Template Ontario Land Trust Alliance ————————– 66 KB word
Property Record Sheet Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust  ———- 1,208 KB pdf
Best Practices for Conservation Easement Agreements Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2016 134 KB pdf
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D. Landowner Relationships
  1. Maintain regular contact with owners of conservation agreement properties to maintain relationships and avoid potential agreement conflicts.
  2. Establish systems to track changes in land ownership.
  3. When the property changes hands, attempt to meet with the new owner or property manager to ensure the new owner obtains:
    1. A copy of the conservation agreement documents.
    2. Information in writing about the conservation agreement.
    3. Copies of the land trust’s stewardship policies and procedures.

Resources:

Property Contact Report – Template Ontario Land Trust Alliance ————————– 34 KB
Landowner Relations – Fact Sheet Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2012 671 KB
Stewardship Guide Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2010 3,544 KB
Best Practices for Conservation Easement Agreements Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2016 134 KB pdf
Landowner Relations Manual Bruce Trail Conservancy 2010 973 KB pdf
CEA Stewardship & Defense Ontario Land Trust Alliance / Ian Attridge 2018 2000 KB PowerPoint
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E. Conservation Agreement Enforcement
  1. Adopt a written policy and develop written procedures for documenting and responding to potential violations in a timely manner and promptly document all actions taken.
  2. Investigate potential violations in a timely manner and promptly document all actions taken.
  3. Involve pertinent parties, authorities and legal counsel as appropriate to the severity of the violation and the nature of the proposed resolution.
    1. For conservation agreements that have been certified as an ecological gift, report violations that have impacted the natural features of the property to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Resources:

Land Trust XYZ’s Violations Policy & Procedures – Template Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2007 68 KB word
Enforcement Practices West Coast Environmental  2005 176 KB pdf
Easement Violations Policy – Sample Ontario Farmland Trust 2019 265 KB pdf
Best Practices for Conservation Easement Agreements Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2016 134 KB pdf
Easement Enforcement Guidelines Nature Conservancy of Canada 2003 55 KB pdf
CEA Stewardship & Defense Ontario Land Trust Alliance / Ian Attridge 2018 2000 KB PowerPoint
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F. Approval and Permitted Rights
  1. Respond to landowner required notices or requests for interpretation or approvals in a timely and consistent manner, as specified in the conservation agreement deed or in a written procedure.
  2. Establish written procedures to guide the land trust’s decision-making regarding approvals and permitted rights.
  3. Maintain a permanent record of all notices, approvals, denials, interpretations and the exercise of any significant permitted rights.

Resources:

Best Practices for Conservation Easement Agreements Ontario Land Trust Alliance 2016 134 KB pdf
Landowner Relations Manual Bruce Trail Conservancy 2010 973 KB pdf
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G. Contingency Strategy
  1. Establish a contingency plan for all conservation agreements in the event the land trust ceases to exist or can no longer steward and administer them.
  2. Maintain contact with the backup holder as appropriate to ensure the ability of the holder to hold conservation agreements is still valid.

Resources:

Conservation Land Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter C.28 Ontario Government  ———————- ——————— website
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H. Amendments
  1. Adopt and follow a written policy or procedure addressing conservation agreement amendments so that they are consistent with the following principles:
    1. Are consistent with the land trust’s mission.
    2. Comply with all applicable provincial and federal laws.
    3. Do not jeopardize the land trust’s charitable status.
    4. Do not result in a private or undue benefit.
    5. Are consistent with the conservation purpose(s) and intent of the conservation agreement.
    6. Are consistent with the documented intent of the donor, grantor and any funding source.
    7. Have a net beneficial or neutral effect on the relevant conservation values protected by the conservation agreement.
  2. Evaluate all conservation agreement amendment proposals with due diligence sufficient to satisfy the above principles.
  3. If an amendment is used to adjust conservation agreement boundaries (such as to remedy disputes or encroachment) and results in a de minimis extinguishment, document how the land trust’s actions address the terms of J.1. below.
  4. Request authorization from the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada for amendments to conservation agreements certified as ecological gifts.

Resources:

Easement Amendment Policy Ontario Farmland Trust 2019 265 KB pdf
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I. Expropriation
  1. If a conservation agreement is threatened with expropriation,
    1. Work diligently to avoid a net loss to conservation values and document the action taken.
    2. Have or obtain appropriate documentation of the percentage of the full value of the property represented by the conservation agreement.
    3. In circumstances where a net loss of conservation values cannot be avoided, document the land trust’s attempts to receive its proportional share of the proceeds and use any proceeds in a manner consistent with the conservation agreement deed.
    4. Provide prompt notification to relevant parties, including the expropriating authority and Environment and Climate Change Canada, if the conservation agreement is certified as an ecological gift.

Resources:

Expropriations Act, R.R.O., 1990, Regulation 363 Ontario Government  ——————— ———————– website
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J. Partial or Full Extinguishment
  1. In the rare case that it is necessary to extinguish a conservation agreement, in whole or in part,
    1. Follow the terms of the conservation agreement with respect to taking appropriate action and obtain provincial authorization when required by law.
    2. Ensure there is no undue benefit.
    3. Take steps to avoid or to mitigate harm to conservation values and/or use any proceeds in a manner consistent with the conservation agreement deed.
    4. Consider the land trust’s actions in the context of its reputation and the impact on the land conservation community at large.
    5. Provide prompt notification relevant parties, including donors and funders involved in the land transaction.
    6. Request prior authorization from Environment and Climate Change Canada if the conservation agreement is certified as an ecological gift.

Resources:

Conservation Land Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter C.28 Ontario Government  ——————— ——————— website
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