The Land Trust Standards and Practices are guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust, which is run legally, ethically, and in the public interest, and which conducts a sound program of land transactions and stewardship. The Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA) has adapted these standards from the Land Trust Alliance of British Columbia and Land Trust Alliance (LTA) in the United States. The LTA standards were developed in 1989 at the urging of land trusts, who believe a strong land trust community depends on the credibility and effectiveness of its members.
The Ontario Land Trust Alliance urges each land trust to bring its operations into substantial compliance with these Statement of Land Trust Standards and Practices. When a member land trust does so, OLTA requires that each land trust pass a board resolution adopting the 15 standards of the Statement of Land Trust Standards and Practices as a guiding document for the operations of the organization. Each land trust may be required to present its case showing, that by using the practices or equivalent, their organization will meet the practices as outlined.
- Standard 1: Purpose, Goals, and Objectives: A land trust must have a clear purpose, goals, and objectives.
- Standard 2: Board Accountability: The board of directors must assume legal responsibility and accountability for the affairs of the organization.
- Standard 3: Conflict of Interest: The board of directors must take care that directors, officers and staff avoid conflicts of interest and promptly declare those that cannot be avoided.
- Standard 4: Basic Legal Requirements: A land trust must understand, fulfill, and maintain its basic legal requirements as a nonprofit organization with charitable status.
- Standard 5: Fundraising: A land trust must conduct fundraising activities in an ethical and responsible manner.
- Standard 6: Financial and Asset Management: The board of directors must ensure that the land trust manages its finances and assets in a responsible and accountable way.
- Standard 7: Staff, Consultants, and Volunteers: A land trust obtains help, from volunteers, consultants, and in many cases paid staff, as necessary to carry out its programs, and must ensure that such resources have appropriate skills and are in sufficient numbers.
- Standard 8: Selecting Projects: A land trust must be selective in choosing projects.
- Standard 9: Choosing the Best Conservation Method: A land trust must select the best available practical method for protecting each property.
- Standard 10: Examining the Property: A land trust must compile and maintain knowledge about each property it protects.
- Standard 11: Ensuring Sound Transactions: A land trust must ensure that every transaction is legally and technically sound, and avoid foreseeable future legal problems.
- Standard 12: Tax Benefits: A land trust must ensure that landowners donating land or assets are informed that there may be tax implications and must formally advise donors to obtain independent legal and tax advice regarding the donation.
- Standard 13: Board Approval of Transactions: The board is responsible for every land transaction.
- Standard 14: Conservation Easement Stewardship: A land trust must carry out a program of responsible stewardship for its easements.
- Standard 15: Land Stewardship: A land trust must carry out a program of responsible stewardship for its land.