Alberta Government puts $5m toward conservation easements

Alberta Government puts $5m toward conservation easements

A recent media release indicates that the Government of Alberta has created a Land Trust Grant program for the purchase and management of conservation easements.  Conservation easements are used to protect the environmental values of land, typically in perpetuity, while allowing the owner of the land to retain title.  A total of $5million is available for 2011-12 with an application deadline of September 26.

The grants are limited to land trusts currently operating in Alberta with a requirement of having some matching funds (level undefined).  In addition the land trust’s proposed project must be aligned “with the government’s overall conservation objectives”.

This grant program is a laudable step toward realizing some conservation gains in the province since the passage of the Alberta Land Stewardship Act.   Further steps need to be taken to ensure long term funding of conservation tools.  One might suggest that a large, independently administered endowment be created (starting at $500m).  (Several US  States  have historically spent in the tens of millions a year.  – See the Conservation Almanac and Colorado as an example).

Clarity in conservation policy and priorities, designation of representative ecosystems/ecoregions as legislated protected areas and formalization of the grant program are also needed if Alberta is to claim to have a robust and effective conservation program.

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