Southern Ontario Nature Coalition (SONC)
The Southern Ontario Nature Coalition (SONC) is a group of experienced provincial, regional, and community-based conservation organizations, land-based policy experts, and Indigenous engagement specialists. With support from the Government of Canada, SONC is developing a strategy that supports a robust near-urban nature network for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. What we learn here and in similar geographies will be instrumental in informing work being done across the country, including the predominantly urban landscapes of southern Canada. Ultimately, our work today is critical to the resilience and prosperity of Canadian communities tomorrow.
The Coalition is committed to engaging Indigenous communities in accordance with community protocols and the development of ethical space for all to contribute meaningfully.
The near-urban nature Network will:
- Address threats to biodiversity in southern Ontario.
- Identify solutions to protect near-urban nature at an increased rate.
- Help realize nature’s full public contributions to community healthy, prosperity, and climate resilience.
- Respect Indigenous communities as land-rights holders, and amplify Indigenous Knowledge systems and leadership.
- Enable greater action by municipal governments and private landowners, including agricultural land owners.
- Promote voluntary, innovative community action.
- Initiate a pan-Canadian conversation about protecting near-urban biodiversity.
SONC Partner Organizations:
This project was made possible with the financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Engaging New Canadians With Nature
OLTA’s new environmental outreach program, Engaging New Canadians With Nature, will encourage newcomers to Canada to connect with nature through conversations around what nature means to them, in a safe space to talk about nature, learn about natural spaces and to cultivate an interest in nature in Canada. This outreach work is in collaboration with CultureLink, a settlement and community organization with more than 30 years experience in developing and delivering services to meet the needs of diverse communities.
The project’s purpose is to build connections between nature groups and new Canadians, to empower new Canadian to connect and care for their new natural environment and to foster opportunities for new Canadians to connect with the emotional, mental and physical benefits of nature.
In 2020 OLTA launched the first year of program, successfully facilitating many opportunities to increase engagement between nature groups and newcomers. OLTA engaged with a total of 91 newcomer participants over the course of July 2020 to September 2020. Throughout the first year we hosted 6 nature-based events, in collaboration with 3 nature organizations, including Nature Conservancy of Canada, The Riverwood Conservancy, and Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy.
We have also shared resources and materials from the first year of the Engaging New Canadians with Nature Program on our website to encourage the development of similar programs across the various communities our land trust members operate in Ontario. These resources can be accessed here.
This project was made possible with the support from TD Friends of the Environment Fund (TD FEF). Founded by TD Bank Group in 1990, TD FEF is a national charity that funds environmental projects across Canada.
If you’re interested in learning more about the project or collaborating on an event, please contact Jeff Driscoll (OLTA’s Program & Communication Coordinator).
Natural Heritage Conservation Program
The Government of Canada is investing $100 million over four years in the Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP), from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2023, as part of Budget 2018’s Nature Legacy initiative. The NHCP is a public-private partnership designed to advance privately protected areas in some of the country’s most cherished landscapes.
The NHCP will contribute to the achievement of the terrestrial and inland water elements of Target 1 for Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets. It will also contribute to the protection of habitat for the recovery of Species at Risk Act (SARA) listed species at risk and the prevention of other species from becoming listed under SARA.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada and a variety of regional and local land trusts represented by the Canadian Land Trust Working Group are working together under the Natural Heritage Conservation Program to support these goals, with a commitment to protect an additional 200,000 hectares (494,210 acres) of habitat for species at risk.
Wildlife Habitat Canada is providing grant administration services for the Land Trusts Conservation Fund, which is a component of the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. The Land Trusts Conservation Fund (LTCF) will provide approximately $4.5 million annually over four years to support Canadian land trusts in securing private lands and private interests in lands.
To be eligible to apply for the LTCF, which includes a large or small grant program, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Applicants must be a Canadian Land Trust
- Applicants must be a registered Canadian Charity
- Applicants must have adopted and be in compliance with, or working towards substantial compliance with, the Canadian Land Trusts Standards and Practices (2019)
- Applicants must demonstrate a minimum of 2:1 in match funding raised from other non-federal sources.
For more general information on the program please visit the Government of Canada’s website here or for more information on both the Small & Large grant programs, please visit Wildlife Habitat Canada’s website here.
Climate Action Program
OLTA’s Climate Action Program will encourage community learning and action around climate change and climate adaptation of conservation and restoration efforts. This program will benefit local communities in rural areas, land trusts and nature.
We are developing and testing a Climate Vulnerability Assessment Tool. This tool will determine the vulnerability of conservation properties to climate change. We will run a pilot project in 2019-20 with land trusts in the Waterloo-Wellington-Dufferin area. During this pilot, we will test the tool and determine vulnerability of conservation properties to climate change. Based on vulnerability, we will identify and undertake actions to increase the resilience of those properties.
We are also working to develop communications resources to help land trusts share knowledge about the role of land conservation as a climate change adaptation strategy. We will work to engage members of the public in this program through hosting public restoration/stewardship events and interpretive walks.
Tools and training activities will be shared to improve climate change communication and action in other parts of Ontario through our network of land trusts. To view resources created from this project click here.
This project was made possible with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Seed Fund. The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded more than $120 million to some 700 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.
For more information about this program, contact our Conservation Science Manager, Morgan Roblin (email@example.com).
Conservation Easement Agreement Defense Program
This project aims to strengthen land conservation, through outreach, collaborative partnerships, and a targeted training program to improve the enforceability of CEAs and reduce their vulnerability.
Key Project Outcomes
- Action Area 1: Establish a consistent approach to conservation easement registration in Ontario’s Land Registry System
- Action Area 2: Develop and promote best practices and training in the drafting of easement agreements, easement revitalization and easement defense strategies
- Action Area 3: Provide training to real property specialists (real estate agents, appraisers, planners, lawyers) on the role of conservation easements in habitat protection.
OLTA CEA Sample and Guide
OLTA developed our Guide to Conservation Easement Agreements in 2008.
Ten years later, we have a much better understanding of the importance of a well-drafted CEA. We are updating our Guide in order to help land trusts improve the quality and defensibility of their CEAs. In addition to being developed and reviewed by OLTA’s CEA Working Group, the document was also reviewed by real estate lawyers and litigators. The revised Guide and Sample is now available!
We are also developing best practices training around the new CEA Guide and Sample to help land trusts understand the changes that were made to the document and why those changes were made. Training opportunities are provided through workshops, seminars, and webinars.
CEA Revitalization Pilot
The majority of CEAs held by land trusts are registered on title in perpetuity. Therefore, the land trust is obliged to enforce the CEA and protect the conservation values on the property in perpetuity. As such, well-drafted CEAs with accurate and complete supporting documentation is essential. As the land trust community in Ontario and across Canada continues to advance, the standard for CEA drafting is set higher. Many land trusts have CEAs that were established 10-20 years ago. These CEAs do not meet the current standards of the land trust community and may leave an opportunity for a landowner to degrade conservation values that the CEA set out to protect.
In 2019, OLTA launched a CEA Revitalization Pilot to help a small number of land trusts that hold older CEAs move through the revitalization process. The CEA Revitalization Pilot aimed to improve our understanding of how land trusts can review, identify, manage and resolve issues with old or outdated CEAs. We hope that this project will help land trusts to strengthen CEA enforcement and defensibility, and encourage land trusts to take a proactive approach to managing and strengthening their CEAS.
Resources and Materials for Property Specialists
OLTA is working to develop published materials and resources to help specialists locate essential information concerning CEAs in Ontario. These resources will be made available through our website allowing these specialists to access them through a simple web search.
Fee for Service for Land Trusts
OLTA’s Fee for Service Program offers low-cost services to our members to assist them in adhering with the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices. We can provide low-cost expertise to assist with conservation land evaluation, planning, stewardship, monitoring and outreach focused activities.
*New Service* – Geographic Information System (GIS) Support: OLTA is now offering GIS Support to our members through the Fee for Service Program.
For more information on OLTA Fee for Service.
Cross-border Conservation Training Program
Conserving Species at Risk on Land Trust Property
Do you know what Species at Risk you have on your land trust properties?
Would you like to learn how to protect them?
Thanks to the support of the MNRF Species at Risk Stewardship Fund we are able to offer support to land trusts to help you conserve Species at Risk on your properties!
This project enables OLTA to provide guidance and expertise to enhance the capacity of local land trusts to undertake strategic conservation planning and management on their properties to benefit Species at Risk. This will be accomplished through delivery of technical training through open workshops, plus one-on-one support for land trusts to develop targeted Species at Risk action plans to inform their conservation work.
For more information on the program, please contact the Species at Risk Technician, Morgan Roblin.
Assistance for this project is provided by the government of Ontario.
Call for Cross-border Conservation Training Program (CCTP) Assistance Fund NOW CLOSED
The aim of the Cross-border Conservation Training Program (CCTP) is to help Ontario land trusts increase their capacity to secure land and conservation easements from US taxpayers who own ecologically significant properties in the province. There are parts of Ontario with high natural heritage values where priority conservation lands are in US ownership. Cross-border conservation can produce more strategic land protection outcomes that are partially underwritten with tax incentives from the US government.
CCTP includes a suite of land trust services, including a fund to assist organizations working in those areas. CCTP is a collaborative initiative of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance Inc. (OLTA) and American Friends of Canadian Land Trusts.
OLTA invites land trusts serving areas where key conservation properties are owned by US taxpayers to apply for assistance from CCTP to support development of skills, tools and relationships to advance potential cross-border conservation transactions. Applications for the following activities will be considered in this round of funding:
– Costs associated with cross-border land securement projects;
– Consultation with tax professionals on cross-border tax implications of a potential transaction; and
– Costs associated with creating/enhancing a land securement strategy that will advance cross-border conservation and of creating/implementing a targeted outreach campaign.
Applicants who are working toward completing a land securement project before the end of 2018 will be highly ranked. A total of $40,085.34 is available in this second CCTP funding cycle. There may be a third call for applications later in 2018. Applications for this round are due by 9:00 am Thursday, February 15, 2018. Please contact Kristen Callow at 705-329-8549, or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
For information on cross-border conservation in general or assistance with potential transactions, please contact Sandra Tassel at American Friends at 301-233-1214 or email@example.com.
BEFORE completing the application, please thoroughly review the following documents:
– CCTP Assistance Fund 2018 Application Form
– CCTP Assistance Fund 2018 Guidelines for Applicants
– CCTP Assistance Fund Recipient Agreement Template 2018
Submission Deadline: CLOSED
Naturally Accessible – Discovering Ontario’s Land Trusts
Naturally Accessible – Discovering Ontario’s Land Trusts is an initiative of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA) in partnership with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. It aims to educate and train Ontario’s land trusts and other conservation partners on their obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) and to work with them to promote and grow accessible recreational, outdoors and educational opportunities offered to the public through their conservation properties and programs.
Photo credits: freeimages.com and Jenna Quinn
Currently 1 in 7 people in Ontario has some type of disability. That’s 1.85 million Ontarians! By 2036, as our population ages, it is expected that 1 in 5 Ontarians will have a disability. That is a lot of potential members, donors, volunteers and champions. Why not start now to think about how to be inclusive as possible as you look to engage your public in the work that you do!
Learning from our Accessibility Roadmaps
Thanks to support from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, OLTA was able to work with four land conservation organizations to develop ‘accessibility road maps’ to develop and prioritize actions they can take to make their operations and facilities more accessible to people with disabilities.
Accessibility Roadmap Reports 2014-2015
- rare Charitable Research Reserve – Accessibility Roadmap 2014 (PDF)
- Ruthven Park – Accessibility Roadmap 2014 (PDF)
- South Nation Conservation – Accessibility Roadmap 2015 (PDF)
- Ontario Nature – Accessibility Roadmap 2015 (PDF)
We refined these reports to focus on specific topic areas that were common challenges for our participating organizations.
- Naturally Accessible Part I_The Built Environment
- Naturally Accessible Part II_Public Spaces
- Naturally Accessible Part III_Accessible Communication
We have also produced the Naturally Accessible Resource Guide, which brings together a collection of materials that will help your organization improve the accessibility of communications, programs, meetings and facilities for persons with disabilities. We would appreciate your feedback and input to keep this resource up to date, so please contact us if you have ideas or questions!
Assessing Your Organization (AYO) Program
Ontario Land Trust Alliance provides instructional tools to help land trusts understand and implement the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices.
Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support of $265,100 over 36 months to build the organizational capacity of Ontario’s Land Trusts by delivering OLTA’s Assessing Your Organization (AYO), a program that assists Ontario land trusts in achieving the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices.
In 2007, OLTA launched its Organizational Assessment Program. This program is intended to help strengthen land trusts through a systematic review and discussion of their governance and operating practices in light of the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices. Through the guidance of OLTA facilitators, the assessment process helps land trust boards meet legal requirements and regulations, recruit and train excellent board members, set priorities for organizational development, as well as secure land efficiently and effectively for conservation and protection.
The main tool used for this program is the Assessing Your Organization: Using Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices workbook. Assessing Your Organization is designed to complement the 2005 Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices and is created for land trusts and other entities that wish to undertake an analysis of their organization’s progress toward implementing the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices.
Testimonials from participants of OLTA’s Organizational Assessment Program:
“This is a good prelude to a 5-year strategic planning process. I think we were mostly aware of pending issues with plans for addressing them –This lights a fire under us, highlights needs so we’re clearer as a group.” – The Couchiching Conservancy
“Good ‘wake-up’ call for what we need to get going on.”
– Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust
Ontario Land Trust and Securement History Credit for Product Project
Fleming College’s School of Environmental and Natural Resources Sciences, Ecosystem Management, Credit for Product (C4P) Program has for many years provided an experiential learning opportunity for students. The C4P Program organising faculty member is Sara Kelly, OLTA Governor. C4P has been a wonderful benefit for the land trust community with many using Fleming C4P students to undertake Baseline Documentation Reports, Stewardship Plans and other field or research projects. This year, Ian Attridge and Barb Heidenreich, OLTA Governors, are mentoring four students that are undertaking the following project:
The purpose of the Ontario Land Trust and Securement History Credit for Product project is to compile the history and formation of OLTA into one document. Through both primary and secondary sources including interviews and publications provided, key moments in the formation of OLTA will be highlighted and preserved for the benefit of future communities and conservation stewards. The student team hopes to hear the perspectives of as many people as possible, to gain a comprehensive view of the land trust movement in Ontario over the years.