Protecting Natural Lands: Information for Landowners
If you own land, or cherish a special place, what can you do to protect it forever? The Hamilton Naturalists’ Club’s (HNC) land trust program works with landowners to find the best way to meet our mutual conservation goals and the landowner’s tax and estate planning needs. HNC staff can provide technical and legal information on conservation strategies and on tax and other financial benefits of conservation. HNC also suggests that landowners get independent legal and financial advice.
There are a variety of options to ensure your land is permanently protected, including:
- Outright donation of all or part of a property.
- Donation of land with provision for continued use by the donor.
- Sale at below market value with a charitable donation receipt for the difference between market value and the sale price (known as a split receipt).
- Donation of a conservation easement to permanently protect natural features on all or part of a property, while maintaining private ownership.
- Bequests of land through one?s will to create a nature sanctuary. In some cases, the HNC may consider purchase of high priority natural areas at market value.
To learn more or to talk to us about conservation options, please contact:
Jen Baker, Land Trust Manager
In 2005, Dundas resident Lorraine Stewart donated land in the Beverly Swamp to the HNC. The resulting Thomas & Mary Young Nature Sanctuary serves as a permanent memorial to Ms. Stewart’s grandparents. It is managed to protect the provincially significant natural heritage values of the site. Ms.Stewart received a charitable donation receipt for the value of the land. Since the property is ecologically significant, the gift was eligible for preferred income tax treatment.
FAQs about protecting land through securement
1. What is a Land Trust?
Land Trusts are conservation organizations that own land and/or hold interests in land, such as conservation easements, as part of their efforts to protect, enhance or restore natural areas, heritage features or agricultural lands. Land trusts work with landowners to take direct action in permanently protecting lands for conservation. Most land trusts are locally or regionally based with volunteer leadership and strong community links. The HNC became Ontario’s first land trust in 1961 with the purchase of our Spooky Hollow Nature Sanctuary.
2. Do I have to donate all of my property?
You can donate a portion of your property, such as the natural lands, and retain agricultural land, and/or land around buildings on the property. Donating a portion of your land to the HNC will help relieve the burden of liability associated with owning land.
3. What are the financial benefits of donating land to the HNC?
Donations of land or conservation easements can provide significant tax advantages. A third party, unbiased appraiser determines the value of the donation and the HNC issues a charitable receipt for this value. Donating land or conservation easements through Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program provides enhanced tax savings that can be used against 100% of your total annual income over ten years plus the year of the donation. Environment Canada’s Ecogifts program certified organizations like the HNC to act as recipients of ecological gifts.
4. Will you accept any property?
The HNC has developed criteria to evaluate the potential of accepting properties. The criteria includes determining the environmental significance of the property, its long-term stewardship costs and its potential threats.
5. What is a conservation easement?
Also called a conservation agreement, it provides the landowner with the flexibility of retaining ownership and use of the land while protecting significant features. Conservation easements are legal documents by which the landowner voluntarily places restrictions on specific activities on the property. The easement runs on title and is tailored to fit the interests of the landowners and the features being protected so that all future landowners are bound by your conditions.
6. The part of my property I’m thinking of donating does not have any road access. Would you still be interested in it?
The HNC is interested in considering properties with no road access and already has a nature sanctuary that is landlocked. We can come up with creative solutions to gain access to the property, such as by making agreements with neighbouring landowners.
7. Will my property become a nature sanctuary?
Yes, all properties that the HNC secures become nature sanctuaries.
8. If I want to discuss this with someone, what is the next step?
The HNC would be happy to arrange a meeting and a site visit of your property. Please contact Jen Baker, Land Trust Manager, at 905.524.3339 to make arrangements.
Information for Potential Donors (Non-Land Owners)
What can you do to help protect land forever?
The Hamilton Naturalists’ Club depends on the generous support we receive from members, friends, foundations, businesses and others to protect significant natural areas, restore habitats, create educational opportunities, and provide hands-on volunteer experiences. Donor support is the key to ensuring we can continue and build on more than 95 years of protecting nature for future generations. If you value open space, the natural environment, and your community, please consider a gift to the land trust program of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. It’s an investment in your future!
- Gifts or bequests of cash or assets to purchase a nature sanctuary in someone’s name or as a memorial.
- Partnering with conservation-minded individuals or organizations to jointly acquire lands to protect nature.
- Cash donations to support the acquisition and stewardship costs for new nature sanctuaries.
To learn more or to talk to us about donation and conservation options, please contact:
Jen Baker, Land Trust Manager