*Land Trust Standards and Practices are the ethical and technical guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust. The Land Trust Alliance developed Land Trust Standards and Practices in 1989 at the urging of land trusts who believe a strong land trust community depends on the credibility and effectiveness of all its members and who understand that employing best practices is the surest way to secure lasting conservation. This is a living document and was revised in 1993, 2001 and 2004 to reflect changes in land trust practices and regulations governing nonprofit organizations. The 2004 revisions were prepared by a team of land trust leaders and reviewed by hundreds of conservationists to capture and share the experience of land trusts from throughout the country.
The nation’s more than 1,500 nonprofit land trusts have conserved millions of acres of wildlife habitat, farms, ranches, forests, watersheds, recreation areas and other important lands. The continued success of land trusts depends both on public confidence in, and support of, the conservation efforts of these organizations, and on building conservation programs that stand the test of time. It is every land trust’s responsibility to uphold this public trust and to ensure the permanence of its conservation efforts.
Implementing Land Trust Standards and Practices helps land trusts uphold the public trust and build strong and effective land conservation programs. The Land Trust Alliance requires that member land trusts adopt Land Trust Standards and Practices as the guiding principles for their operations, indicating their commitment to upholding the public trust and the credibility of the land trust community as a whole. The Land Trust Alliance encourages all land trusts to implement Land Trust Standards and Practices at a pace appropriate for the size of the organization and scope of its conservation activities.
Land Trust Standards and Practices are organized into 12 standards and supporting practices to advance the standards. The practices are guidelines; there are many ways for a land trust to implement the practices, depending on the size and scope of the organization. The Land Trust Alliance provides resources to assist land trusts in the implementation of Land Trust Standards and Practices. General information on Land Trust Standards and Practices and on Alliance publications and training programs related to the standards and practices can be found at www.lta.org. Land Trust Alliance member land trusts and partners can find additional technical information and sample documents at www.LTAnet.org.
While Land Trust Standards and Practices are designed primarily for nonprofit, tax-exempt land trusts, they also provide important guidance for any organization or government agency that holds land or easements for the benefit of the public. Land trusts are a respected and integral part of the nation’s land conservation work. With this recognition comes responsibility to ensure that all land trusts operate effectively and that their conservation efforts are lasting. Land Trust Standards and Practices are a critical tool in meeting these challenges.
Protected Lands: 1995
Protected Lands 2012 (Updated 10/14/22)