The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, a program promoting the highest national standards for ensuring permanence in the conservation of American lands, announced on February 22 that one in four land trusts are now accredited. The Commission reaches this milestone as it enters its tenth year of helping land trusts build strong programs to save the lands and waters people care about.
“At a time of political change, one thing is clear and consistent: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. For a full decade, accredited land trusts have been united behind strong ethical standards and the pursuit of conservation excellence,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “This network of more than 370 land trusts has demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance and lasting stewardship.”
There are 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the most recent National Land Trust Census, released in December 2016 by the Land Trust Alliance. This comprehensive report also shows accredited land trusts have made significant achievements:
- Accredited land trusts have steadily grown and now steward more than 77% of conservation lands and easements held by all land trusts.
- Accredited land trusts protected five times more land from 2010 to 2015 than land trusts that were not yet accredited.
- Accredited land trusts also have stronger systems and more resources to steward and defend their conservation lands forever.
- As a result, the public’s trust in land conservation has increased helping to win support for federal, state and local conservation funding measures.
Overall, 21 land trusts achieved initial or renewed accreditation. The total number of accredited land trusts surpassed 25% of all land trusts following the December Census release, which updates the total number of U.S. land trusts and their achievements every five years.
The Commission is an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. The Commission is governed by conservation practitioners around the country who ensure that each accredited land trust meets extensive documentation requirements and undergoes a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation or renewal application. Accredited land trusts must renew every five years, confirming their compliance with national quality standards and providing continued assurance to donors and landowners of their commitment to forever steward their land and easements.
“The growing number of accredited land trusts is one of the greatest shared accomplishments our community has realized since the Alliance was founded 35 years ago,” said Andrew Bowman, the Alliance’s president. “I look forward to seeing this number grow in the years ahead, empowering even more land trusts to become stronger and better able to serve their community.”
Land trusts achieving first-time accreditation are Avalonia Land Conservancy (Connecticut), Chattooga Conservancy (Georgia), Driftless Area Land Conservancy (Wisconsin), Five Rivers Conservation Trust (New Hampshire), Indian River Lakes Conservancy (New York), Kiawah Island Natural Habitat Conservancy (South Carolina), Land Conservancy of Ridgefield (Connecticut), Mendocino Land Trust (California), Newtown Forest Association (Connecticut), Niches Land Trust (Indiana), Ranchland Trust of Kansas (Kansas), Shirley Heinze Land Trust (Indiana), Steep Rock Association (Connecticut), Westerly Land Trust (Rhode Island), and Woods and Waters Land Trust (Kentucky).
Land trusts achieving renewed accreditation are Chestnut Hill Conservancy (Pennsylvania), Columbia Land Conservancy (New York), Delaware Highlands Conservancy (Pennsylvania), Genesee Valley Conservancy (New York), Summit Land Conservancy (Utah), and Winnakee Land Trust (New York).
A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits are detailed at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.