A Conservation Covenant is a voluntary agreement to conserve land or special natural features, and is made between you as a land owner and another organization (or group of organizations) acting on behalf of the community. The covenant is registered on the land title and is legally binding on future owners of the property. The covenant itself is administered by a third party: for example, the Bowen Island Conservancy, or the Islands Trust Conservancy.
How does a Conservation Covenant work?
A Conservation Covenant may include provisions that restrict use of your land, or that require improvements to be made and maintained for the protection of natural resources (such as plant life, animals, or other special features). You retain title to the land, and can continue to live on and use it, restricting or allowing public access, but you are bound to keep to the agreed-upon restrictions documented in the Covenant.
The conservation organization that will hold the Covenant can help you to design the Covenant in a way that establishes the limits of future use and development. To ensure that these long-term agreements are kept, two land trust organizations may share the legal responsibility of protecting, monitoring, and defending the Covenant. An annual site visit and report are often done, creating an on-going record of the land’s condition.
Normally, a Conservation Covenant restricts uses, developments, or practices which would damage the natural or cultural features of the land. For example:
- Future subdivision of the land could be prohibited, while the rights to build accessory buildings or grow certain crops could be retained;
- A covenant on land containing endangered wildlife habitat might prohibit development completely, yet retain existing or replacement dwellings;
- In some cases, the conservation covenant may apply to a portion of your property only, allowing development, building or other uses in the remaining areas.
Conservation Covenants can be tailored to meet your own desires, the land’s unique natural and cultural values, and the goals of the conservation organization signing it.
Conservation Convenants create a legacy
When you place a Conservation Covenant on land, you are creating a legacy that will last far into the future.
You will be helping your Bowen Island community, and future generations of Islanders, by preserving natural or cultural resources that might otherwise be destroyed. In addition, you will be adding to a network of conserved areas that will help maintain the habitats and ecosystems that support wildlife, human health and recreation here on Bowen Island.
The decisions that you make now will have consequences that will be in effect for generations to come: they need careful consideration. Choosing to conserve aspects of your land is the first step. Next, contact us at the Conservancy to explore what most suits your needs and the needs of our community.
You may also find these brochures of interest (available on the Land Trust Alliance of BC’s website):