A conservation covenant is a promise...
If you own land with natural ecosystems which you would like to protect, but you also want to retain ownership of your land or sell your house, then a conservation covenant may be the right land protection tool for you.
Conservation covenants are permanent, legal agreements that can conserve all, or a portion, of a property. The landowner retains ownership of their property but agrees to protect or manage the land in certain ways that respect and protect various natural features. The conservation covenant also conveys certain specifically-identified rights and responsibilities (such as the right to an annual inspection) to a land conservation organisation or a public agency.
The covenants are binding on subsequent owners of the land on which they are registered. Under certain circumstances, there may be tax benefits to the landowner.
Agencies eligible to hold conservation covenants include local governments or a registered conservation organisation such as a land trust. In the Capital Region, land trusts such as Habitat Acquisition Trust, Nature Conservancy of Canada, The Land Conservancy and the Islands Trust Fund all hold conservation covenants. Many covenants are a threeway agreement between the landowner, the local government and a conservation organisation as this provides the best long-term protection and the best use of resources to manage and monitor the land.
Habitat Acquisition Trust holds covenants on many properties in the Capital Region, including Ayum Creek in Sooke, Brooks Point on Pender Island, and a number of private properties. An organisation holding the conservation covenant is responsible for monitoring compliance with the terms of the agreement, and has the right to enforce the restrictions under provincial or territorial laws and to require restoration should the terms be broken.
Conservation covenants may be used to protect public as well as private lands.
If you understand what a conservation covenant looks like, HAT bases its covenants on West Coast Environmental Law's annotated covenant in Greening your Title. The annotated covenant explains which clause of the covenant.
Contact us for more information about covenants and how one might work to protect your property.
Conservation covenants are complex legal documents and legal advice should be sought.