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C. Conservation Agreement Monitoring

  • Adopt a written policy and/or procedure for compliance monitoring of conservation agreements that establishes consistent monitoring protocols and recordkeeping procedures.
  • Monitor each conservation agreement property at least once per calendar year:
    • If the land trust uses aerial monitoring, conduct on-the-ground monitoring at least once every five years.
    • Promptly document the outcomes of annual compliance monitoring activities for each conservation agreement, including communications to and from owners of conservation agreement properties.
    • Conduct on-the-ground verification in a timely manner for any suspected violation or breach of conservation agreements.


There are several reasons why a land trust should monitor its conservation agreements annually. In exceptional circumstances, due to the remoteness of the property, monitoring may not be carried out on an annual basis, but a schedule for monitoring should still be developed to insure the conservation values of the property will be safeguarded. Monitoring helps a land trust develop a relationship with the landowner, helps discover changes in land ownership, enables it to see if the conservation agreement is effective, helps uncover violations, saves time and money on enforcement actions, and establishes a record in case of court action. Annual monitoring routinely reminds the landowner of the conservation agreement and provides a means for annual landowner contact. With annual monitoring the land trust can promptly document any changes in the property’s condition relative to the conservation agreement. While some land trusts regularly conduct “drive-by” or informal monitoring activities, the monitoring results should be documented to build a record for future monitoring and in case the land trust must address a violation. Some conservation agreements with particularly sensitive conditions, or on land where a landowner is performing management activities, may require monitoring more frequently than once a year. Land trusts use a combination of on-the-ground review, aerial observation and other methods in their annual monitoring. Conservation agreements held under the Ecological Gifts Program must be monitored to ensure that the land use of the property is consistent with the original donation. Monitoring documentation for Ecological Gifts should be made available to Environment Canada upon request. If conservation agreements are monitored by volunteers, they should be trained, tailoring the monitoring techniques and requirements to the specific property. Depending on the complexity of the property and the conservation agreement, volunteers with certain technical backgrounds may be required. Good record keeping is essential to monitoring. Staff and/or volunteers should be provided with standard monitoring forms. Where violations occur, enforcement may be necessary and therefore detailed, credible records will be required.