There are a variety of ways to protect natural areas.
Conservation Covenants are one tool designed to permanently protect lands that have significant natural values.
A Conservation Covenant is a legally binding written agreement between a landholder and an authorized covenanting agency such as Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT).
The purpose of a conservation covenant is to protect a property, or certain features of a property, in perpetuity.
A Conservation Covenant may be a good option when: -the landholder wants to preserve the property's special features -the land meets NALT's guidelines for holding a conservationcovenant, and -the land has important values that need permanent protection.
NALT may agree to place a Conservation Covenant in order to preserve: -natural green spaces -wildlife habitat -forest stands -watersheds or watercourses -rare and endangered plant or animal species
A Conservation Covenant may change the way a property is used, by: -restricting actions such as cutting native vegetation or building structures -restricting sub-division of the land -fencing an area around a stream or endangered habitat -removing invasive species such as Scotch broom -maintaining or improving a property to specified conditions.
NALT monitors Conservation Covenants by: -making an inventory about features and conditions of the land when the covenant is registered -conducting annual site visits to ensure the terms of the covenant are upheld.
Landholders are invited to take part in the annual monitoring process. Following a site visit, they are asked to review and sign the monitoring report.
A Conservation Covenant ensures permanent protection because it is registered against the land title and is binding on the present and all future owners of the land. The landholder still holds title to the land and has all other usual rights and responsibilities -- including the right to control access and to sell or bequeath the land, but must uphold the terms of the conservation covenant.
Conservation Covenants work better than restrictive covenants because the initial request for a conservation covenant comes from the landholder, who then participates in the process of designing an individually tailored document. The conservation covenant is monitored regularly, and enforced when necessary.
Conservation Covenants are not easy to amend, but under special circumstances they can be modified by a joint agreement between the landholder and the covenant holders.
Sometimes Conservation Covenants provide the landholder with tax benefits. Each case must be individually assessed by a tax professional.
NALT currently holds or co-holds 9 conservation covenants, and is in the process of exploring covenants for 3 more properties. They include: three properties on Lasqueti Island, Kwell, Mount Trematon and John Osland Nature Reserves; Two properties on Gabriola Island, Coats Millstone and Elder Cedar Nature Reserve; South Winchelsea Island; Mount Benson Regional Park; Yellow Point Lodge; and a small but ecologically significant private property in Errington. NALT also provides information and advice to land owners who are interested in pursuing this option.
To Begin the Process . . . contact NALT's Conservation Covenants Coordinator, and arrange a visit to your property to assess the features of the land and discussthe costs and benefits of a conservation covenant.
If the property meets NALT's criteria for a conservation covenant, the Coordinator will work with you to design a document that reflects your needs and the needs of your land.