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Ways to Conserve Land

Lyal Island © Thomas Emptage

Permanent Protection

We acquire additional properties to strategically expand our nature reserve system and protect critical habitat. Your gift of land or the funds to manage and expand the system will protect species at risk, provincially imperiled habitats and globally-recognized sites.

Our nature reserves were either purchased by us or donated by people who love nature. They are all cared for by people who value nature and owned forever by members of Ontario Nature.

Aphrodite fritillary butterfly, Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve © Jerry Asling

Protect Your Land

Title Transfer: A title transfer allows you to protect your property now, or arrange to do so in the future, by donating or selling the property to a conservation organization, such as Ontario Nature. Learn More.

Conservation Easement: A conservation easement (also known as a covenant) allows you to permanently protect your property without giving up ownership. It is a legal agreement between you and a conservation organization, like Ontario Nature. Learn More.

Ecological Gifts: Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program helps landowners protect their property and receive tax benefits under the Income Tax Act. Learn More.

A Gift of Land: You can leave a legacy for nature. Many of the properties in Ontario Nature’s nature reserve system are special gifts from people who had a desire to protect a special piece of nature they owned. Learn More.

Spring forest, Altberg Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Reserve © Eric Davis

1. Title Transfer

You may wish to protect your land for the future by transferring the title to your property now or arranging to do so at a later date. Donating or selling your land to a conservation organization will ensure long-term protection for your property, and does not necessarily entail your loss of access to that land while you or your family is alive. In fact, there are ways to structure a donation that allow you to receive a life income from your land.

Lyal Island Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar

Options available for the donation or sale of a property, include:

  • Give or sell your land to an organization with a conservation mandate such as Ontario Nature
  • Reserve a “life estate” when you give or sell the land, meaning that you or a family member can continue to live on the property
  • Transfer your land with a charitable gift annuity or unitrust, which would allow you to receive regular annuity payments from recipient charity
  • Sell or donate the land, and then leasing all or a portion of it back for a certain period
  • Make a charitable gift through a bequest in your will – either of funds for land acquisition or of land
  • Establish a private trust to define what the property is used for
  • Grant a “right of first refusal” so that Ontario Nature or another conservation group has the first chance to buy the property, if and when you decide to sell
A birthday hike, Sydenham River Nature Reserve © Heather Bowman

If you are considering a gift of land, the group to whom you are donating a property will likely ask you to consider an additional gift of management funds. Gifts of land come with ancillary costs such as appraisals, surveys, severances, legal fees, and ongoing costs from things such as fencing, signage and liability insurance. A responsible conservation organization will want to ensure they have the funds to properly care for your land.

Selling or donating land may involve large tax liabilities. To counteract this fact, Ontario Nature and other charitable organizations can issue an income tax receipt for donated land that you can use as a tax credit to reduce your annual taxes.

Bruce Alvar Nature Reserve © Noah Cole

2. Conservation Easement

In legal terms, a conservation easement is registered on title, remaining in force if the land is sold or transferred to a new owner. The terms and conditions of a conservation easement are negotiated between the landowner and the conservation organization holding the easement. Easements are tailor-made and can be designed to protect an entire property, or only those features cherished by the landowner. The role of the conservation organization is to monitor the management of the easement property to ensure that agreed restrictions are being honoured. Easements are intended to help landowners protect important features of your land forever.

Ontario Nature will enter into an easement with a landowner in areas surrounding our existing nature reserves, or in limited cases where no other conservation organization is active.

Spotted salamander, Lost Bay Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar

3. Ecological Gifts

Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program helps landowners protect their property and receive tax benefits under the Income Tax Act. Landowners who donate or enter into a conservation easement may be eligible to receive a tax receipt through the Ecological Gifts Program. To participate in the program a property must meet certain ecological standards.  This program provides added tax incentives to the landowner.

To find out more visit the Ecological Gifts Program website.

Spring peeper, Kinghurst Nature Reserve © Gabe Camozzi

4. Gift of Land

You can leave a legacy for nature, forever. Many of the properties in our nature reserve system are special gifts from people who had a desire to protect a special piece of nature they owned. We built our nature reserve system from properties given to Ontario Nature to safeguard forever, and by properties purchased with funds from bequests, grants and individual donations.

Find out how you can contribute to Ontario Nature’s nature reserve system by contacting our Conservation Science and Stewardship Director, Smera, at 1-800-440-2366 ext. 229.

Baptist Harbour Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar