EALT accepts donations of land with important ecological and conservation values, or that may be within Ecologically Significant Areas. These may have significant areas of natural habitat, large forests, or be adjacent to lakes or waterbodies, or be homes for sensitive or at risk wildlife.
EALT secures most of our properties through land donations. Landowners who donate their land may qualify for significant tax benefits through the Ecological Gifts Program.
After a donation, the land is owned by EALT. We will not sell or develop the land, but will steward and protect its conservation values in perpetuity. In most cases, conservation lands owned by EALT will be open to the public for enjoyment and education. However, there may also be opportunities for owners to live on their land after it is gifted to EALT.
Instead of donating land, landowners can instead donate a conservation easement (CE). A conservation easement allows the landowner to permanently protect their land without giving up ownership or use, but still receive tax benefits.
A conservation easement is an agreement between the landowner and a qualified organization such as EALT. It places limits on land use or development which would damage the natural or cultural features of your property. With an easement, you still own the land and retain title, and can continue to live on and use it, restrict public access to it, and sell, gift or Will your property to whomever you wish. An easement helps you control future use and development on your land to ensure your wishes about the land are fulfilled in the future (e.g. restricting development), by enlisting a conservation organization to help in this, even after the property changes hands. Conservation easements are usually tailored to meet your own needs and wishes, the land’s unique natural and cultural values, and the goals of the conservation organization signing it. The conservation agreement is registered on the land title, so remains in effect even when the land is transferred or sold.
Conservation does not end when a land trust acquires a property, it is just the beginning! Protecting and enhancing the conservation values of the lands we acquire is some of EALT’s most important work. We evaluate every property for its conservation value, as well as the threats to these values. A conservation management plan is developed and implemented based on this analysis to include detailed annual monitoring, as well as management activities. The stewardship program, therefore, requires a high level of intimacy with the land, and finding its hidden assets.