Protecting Our Land
Land Protection Options
There are many different ways to protect your land and its features. Working with Kawartha Land Trust is a leading option for you to consider.
As a Land Trust, we work to help individuals and families realize their vision for protecting the land you love. Our specific niche is working towards gifts of conservation easement agreements or gifts of outright land. These arrangements can be flexible such as a “retained interest” or “life estate” which is a right of use or access a property after the gift is made.
These agreements are usually permanent and take extensive considerations to develop in order to clarify the goals of the landowner(s), the land trust, and in some cases, community partners. These partners may include a volunteer land stewardship group or association that may assist in caring for the property longer term.
Many of these options provide income or property tax benefits. Gifts of land or conservation easement agreement made to Kawartha Land Trust may qualify as an “Ecological Gift” under the Canadian Income Tax Act and be eligible for associated income tax benefits.
In addition, Kawartha Land Trust may “secure” a property through shorter-term arrangements such as a trail agreement over private land that is managed by Kawartha Land Trust or one of our partners. This may include stewardship activities such as planting trees, tall grass prairie restoration, maintaining trails or enlisting in available government programs such as the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program.
More Details on Options for Working With Kawartha Land Trust
Conservation Easement Agreement
A Conservation Easement Agreement is a permanent, legally binding agreement that is registered on the title of the property.
With a Conservation Easement Agreement, you continue to own and use your land and can sell it or pass it on to your heirs, but there is a permanent legal agreement – like a covenant – with the Kawartha Land Trust that is registered to the title of the property.
The Conservation Easement Agreement permanently limits uses of the land to protect its conservation features.
Most lands are subject to a number of different protective regulations already. A conservation agreement can simply mirror these regulations so that they will remain effective and future owners will not violate them in the future. If the owner decides to do so, the agreement can also go further to restrict specified uses, practices or developments that would otherwise damage the natural or cultural features on the property. They can apply to all or only the significant portion of a property (e.g. the shoreline). Since these are agreements, they can be tailored to meet the owner’s needs, the land’s unique natural, scenic or historical values, and the goals of the conservation organization signing it. When donated, agreements can also help with tax planning and tax reduction. (see the details below).
If ownership is retained by the landowner, the ongoing management of the property continues to be the responsibility of the landowner. If the landowner is interested in assistance, they can request KLT’s help with the ongoing stewardship and management of the property. For conservation easements, KLT will monitor the properties on an annual basis in accordance with its Stewardship Policy to ensure that the restrictions outlined in the easement are being upheld.
Fee Simple Donation
The easiest of these is a Fee Simple Donation. Title of a property or portions of a property are transferred from the landowner to the KLT.
Life Estate or Retained Interest
A landowner can also reserve a “life estate” or “Retained Interest” as part of a donation or sale. This allows the landowner or a family member to continue to live on the property until their death or the death of the family member.
There are capital gains and income tax benefits for gifts of conservation easement agreements and land that qualify as Ecological Gifts. In all cases, we encourage you to seek independent legal and financial advice as to impact of an ecological gift of land.
Steps Towards Securement
KLT has designed a number of policies and protocols to guide and clarify expectations with all parties. KLT is largely a volunteer driven charity with a small staff and is limited in the number of opportunities we can pursue at a given time. In all cases, we require a stewardship fund to ensure we can adequately steward the property in perpetuity. This is not the responsibility of the land donor however something that must be established in advance.