Research & Working Groups

OLTA works with many different organizations, government bodies, not-for-profits and universities to help expand the body of knowledge relating to land conservation. Look at the different groups below to find out how OLTA is enhancing the work we are doing multi-disciplinary groups.

Climate Action Working Group

Land trusts have an essential role to play in addressing climate change in Ontario. The land trust community provides natural climate solutions to our communities through land conservation. Land conservation mitigates climate change by storing carbon and avoiding emissions by protecting and restoring the natural landscape.

Climate change is challenging traditional approaches to land conservation in Ontario. Many land trusts are not prepared to adapt to the impacts of climate change. OLTA formed the Climate Action Working Group in early 2018. The Working Group aims to support Ontario’s land trust community to increase capacity to respond.

The Working Group is a collaboration of land trust members, OLTA partners, OLTA staff and research associates. The goals of the Working Group are to:

  1. Provide research, guidance and support to enhance private land conservation in Ontario in the face of climate change;
  2. Provide a platform for information sharing; and
  3. Increase public awareness of climate change as it affects land conservation.

The Working Group plans to host workshops in 2019. Sessions will provide a platform for land trusts to discuss their concerns and work together to think of solutions. Knowledge gained from the workshops will inform future activities. These activities include:

  • Producing material to communicate the role of land conservation as a climate solution;
  • Supporting an event to discuss climate trends with practitioners, experts, and researchers; and
  • Developing a tool to help land trusts make informed decisions in the scope of climate change.

To learn more about the Climate Action Working Group, contact us

Click here to learn more about our Climate Action Program.

Study on Land Trust Climate Change Adaptation Practices

In partnership with Dr. Michael Drescher from the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo, we distributed a survey to investigate land trust climate change adaptation strategies available to our members.  Through this research Dr. Drescher seeks to better understand the awareness and perception land trusts have of climate change, as well as any adaptation strategies they may be implementing.

The information you provided improved our knowledge about land trusts’ current climate change adaptation strategies. The survey revealed that most land trusts are aware of climate change and adaptation measures, but most are not prepared to take action to adapt to climate change. Other priorities, lack of knowledge, and cost associated with adaptation prove to be barriers to taking action.  The survey also showed that many land trusts are looking for support in the form of conferences, training, guidance and access to regional climate trends.

Dr. Michael Drescher presented some of these results at the 2017 OLTA Gathering. A copy of his presentation can be found here. Following this presentation, many land trusts expressed interest in expanding their knowledge on climate change adaptation strategies. As a result, OLTA formed the Climate Action Working Group. We hope that this group will support our land trust community’s immense efforts to improve environmental health, stability, and resilience, thus improving opportunities to garner various kinds of government and private support related to climate change action.

Information Letter

Conservation Easement Agreement Working Group

Conservation Easements Agreements (CEAs) are voluntary legal agreements between easement holders, typically land trusts or government agencies, and private landowners. Easement holders acquire and hold certain property rights in order to restrict land use, in most cases in perpetuity. CEAs often prohibit land use changes likely to reduce conservation values, thereby protecting the conservation values of the land under the easement. Advantages of easements include, their low initial cost compared to land purchase, and their ability to facilitate voluntary protection of natural areas of conservation value, with landowners wishing to retain ownership of their property.

Under the Ontario Conservation Lands Act, municipalities, conservation authorities and non-governmental not-for-profit natural heritage organizations are empowered to acquire and hold natural heritage conservation easements.

CEAs are an important conservation tool for land trusts. However, we know that landowners can sometimes challenge the terms of an easement agreement — clear-cutting a woodland, building too close to the waterfront, or opening a commercial enterprise, for example – undermining not only the conservation protections in the agreement, but also threatening both the potential stability of all conservation agreements, and the ability of the land trust holding the easement to continue its operations.

OLTA and our members have been working together to raise standards, awareness and knowledge around CEAs. OLTA coordinates a voluntary CEA Working Group, and has been developing defense strategies over the past few years. The CEA Working Group aims to strengthen land conservation, through outreach, collaborative partnerships, and a targeted training program to improve the enforceability of CEAs and reduce their vulnerability.

Click here for more information on our CEA Defense Program.