Standards Revision Completed
The Land Trust Alliance has released the revised Land Trust Standards and Practices — now it’s time to adopt them. Here’s a brief summary of what’s new, what to expect and where to find more information.
The land trust community is committed to excellence in our work. We’re committed to upholding the public’s confidence in land conservation. And we support each other in that commitment.
Together, land trusts have established a set of guidelines for how to run a land trust responsibly: Land Trust Standards and Practices (the Standards). These guidelines describe how to operate a land trust legally, ethically and in the public interest, with a sound program of land transactions and land stewardship.
Land trusts developed the first Standards in 1989 and revised them most recently in 2016-2017. Hundreds of conservation leaders contributed to the 2017 revisions, so these guidelines represent the experience of diverse land trusts from across the country. More than 1,000 land trusts have adopted the Standards.
A Shared Commitment
Alliance member land trusts must adopt the Standards — meaning that they affirm these guidelines in principle and commit to steady progress in putting them into effect. To earn accreditation, a land trust must demonstrate that it has implemented the Standards, through rigorous verification of 55 indicator elements.
Land trusts share a commitment to these best practices because we know that for land conservation to succeed over the long term, we need to secure the public’s confidence and support. All land trusts must demonstrate effectiveness and credibility—otherwise, the ones that fall short could undermine the whole conservation movement.
Learn more about adopting and implementing the Standards.
Download Land Trust Standards and Practices.
Twelve Guiding Principles
The Standards set 12 broad principles. These standards are broken down into 59 practices and 188 practice elements, which describe the essential actions needed to fulfill the Standards. Here are the 12 Standards that land trusts commit to uphold:
- Land trusts maintain high ethical standards and have a mission committed to conservation, community service and public benefit.
- Land trusts fulfill their legal requirements as nonprofit tax-exempt organizations and comply with all laws.
- Land trust boards act ethically in conducting the affairs of the organization and carry out their legal and financial responsibilities as required by law.
- Land trusts have policies and procedures to avoid or manage real or perceived conflicts of interest.
- Land trusts conduct fundraising activities in a lawful, ethical and responsible manner.
- Land trusts are responsible and accountable for how they manage their finances and assets.
- Land trusts have sufficient skilled personnel to carry out their programs, whether volunteers, staff and/or consultants/contractors.
- Land trusts carefully evaluate and select their conservation projects.
- Land trusts work diligently to see that every land and conservation easement transaction is legally, ethically and technically sound.
- Land trusts work diligently to see that every charitable gift of land or conservation easement meets federal and state tax law requirements, to avoid fraudulent or abusive transactions and to uphold public confidence in land conservation.
- Land trusts have a program of responsible stewardship for their conservation easements.
- Land trusts have a program of responsible stewardship for the land held in fee for conservation purposes.