A conservation covenant is a legal agreement designed to protect significant ecological values of a property. It is a voluntary agreement made between a landholder and one or two conservation organizations, such as the SSI Conservancy.
In the covenant, the landholder promises to protect the land in specified ways. Specific restrictions might include statements such as:
- No indigenous flora (this includes trees) or fauna shall be gathered or removed from the land. No commercial or sport hunting, fishing or trapping shall be performed or permitted on the land.
Covenant terms are flexible and can be tailored to fit your circumstances. Usually, the portion of the land with a house and garden is not included within a covenanted area. The landholder can keep all rights that are consistent with the terms of the agreement, including controlling access to the land and selling or bequeathing it. Generally, a covenant is a tool for preserving a natural environment, but it may also include restoration of environmentally degraded land.
Once the covenant is granted, it is permanent and registered on title. It contains provisions for enforcement and must be respected by all future owners.
Regular monitoring is the legal responsibility of the organizations holding covenants. In consultation with the landholder, representatives of the organizations make annual visits to monitor the property and document the status of the land. If an owner or someone else violates the covenant, the conservation organization can impose fines on the violator. However, this is rarely necessary, as almost all covenant breeches are resolved amicably.
Tax Benefits of Conservation Covenants: Through the Natural Areas Property Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP), land within the boundaries of the Islands Trust, which includes all of Salt Spring, may be eligible for a 65% property tax reduction on the portion of land under the covenant. This tax benefit continues for any future owners.
Through the federal Ecological Gifts Program, conservation covenants on ecologically valuable land may qualify for a charitable donation receipt and relief from capital gains tax.
For further information please contact us.