Land Conservation Fund
What is it?
A Land Conservation Fund is a pool of funds generated by the community to provide the funding required for conservation projects that are not currently the responsibility of municipal, provincial, and federal governments. Land Conservation Funds can be used for conservation projects including the purchase of ecologically-valuable lands, establishment of conservation easements, or stewardship and habitat enhancement on private land. These funds can be used on their own, or combined with existing municipal resources. The use of Local Conservation Funds is often determined by a citizen-led advisory committee.
How can municipalities use it?
Municipalities can create a Land Conservation Fund to enhance their capacity to conserve sensitive land. A municipality can direct a portion of municipal revenues toward the fund, then apply those dollars eithery to municipally-led stewardship activities and land acquisition, or to conservation organizations to undertake specific conservation projects.
What are the advantages?
The advantages of Land Conservation Funds include:
Enables municipalities to secure funding to be used for conservation projects or acquisitions that would otherwise not be available
Can leverage other existing moneys that may otherwise be inadequate
Allows conservation organizations to apply for funding to carry out projects supportive of municipal conservation goals
Can better integrate municipal conservation goals with community conservation goals
What should you watch out for?
No tool is a silver bullet. The following issues should be considered with regard to Land Conservation Funds:
Community buy-in is necessary, but community members may not be willing to pay into the fund
Amounts raised are relatively small compared to land acquisition costs
The question of who allocates the raised funds amongst potential projects can be contentious
Controls need to be in place to guard against perceived or actual conflicts of interest
There are administrative costs to a Land Conservation Fund
While this tool has been used extensively in B.C. and throughout the U.S., currently it has not been used in Alberta, as the Municipal Government Act limits the use of service charges or taxes
How can it help maintain natural infrastructure?
Land acquisitions and conservation projects resulting from a Local Conservation Fund can help to protect and maintain all aspects of the natural infrastructure system – assets (though protecting land from development), functions (though projects that enhance natural infrastructure), and benefits (resulting from land protection and enhancement projects).
Local Conservation Funds in British Columbia – A Guide for Local Governments and Community Organizations – Prepared by the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program in 2017, this guide outlines the steps involved in establishing conservation funds in British Columbia, and includes examples of successful campaigns.
South Okanagan Conservation Fund – The Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen, with public assent, adopted a bylaw to establish the South Okanagan Conservation Fund in 2016 to support conservation efforts to protect, enhance and restore natural areas, water, environment, wildlife, land and habitat.
Kootenay Lake Local Conservation Fund – Residents pay $15 per parcel per year in tax to the conservation fund, which is used to support conservation projects that address local priorities such as clean water, working family farms, and shoreline restoration.
Did we miss something?
If you know of a resource that should be on this list - or your municipality has a sample or case that should be here, please let us know!