In real estate terms, a greener approach to land relates to the way it’s used, cared for and protected. Links to programs and guides such as Smart Growth and The Natural Step that help homeowners and communities reduce their impact on the developed land they use can be found on the greener community page.
Stewardship is a concept of responsible caretaking of air, land, water and biodiversity to ensure healthy ecosystems for present and future generations. There are several resources available to enable responsible stewardship of land.
A land trust or conservancy is a non-profit, charitable organization committed to the long-term protection of natural and/or cultural heritage. A land trust may own land itself, or enter into conservation covenants with property owners to protect or restore natural or heritage features on the owner’s land. Land trusts frequently work in partnership with governments, foundations and business in achieving shared conservation goals.
Land Trusts in BC
Land Trusts in Canada
Land Trusts in the US
The most common ways to protect private land in BC using land trusts are through conservation covenants, land donations and land purchases.
A conservation covenant is a legal agreement between a landowner and authorized land trusts (usually two). This legal agreement remains attached to the title of the lands in perpetuity, and defines allowable and restricted uses for the property. The title of the property usually remains with the original landowner. Section 219 of the Land Title Act outlines the legal framework for conservation covenants.
Lands can also be donated to, or purchased by, a land trust. The title will be transferred to the new landowner (the land trust), who will often develop management plans to outline management goals and strategies for the new acquisition. There are also various tax incentives that may benefit the original donor/seller.
Related Tools and Organizations
The Land Trust Alliance of BC offers several important publications on its website such as, An Introduction to Conservation Covenants: A Guide For Developers and Planning Departments. This is an eight-page document that includes estimated costs and benefits of conservation covenants.
Green Bylaws Toolkit - The Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law initiated this toolkit.
The Green Bylaws Toolkit for Conserving Sensitive Ecosystems and Green Infrastructure is an important resource for understanding how local governments and developers can safeguard the environment, from a regional to a site level. It clearly explains each tool, and provides case studies and examples of bylaws that are in use across the province... It is abundantly clear that sustainable land development is not a cost to business; it brings value to developers, life and community and is absolutely necessary to tackle the significant environmental issues we are facing.
—Joe Van Belleghem, Developer of Dockside Green, Victoria
The Living by Water Project offers numerous guides and resources specific to responsible stewardship of shoreline land, including: