Land Trust Evaluation of Progress toward Conservation Goals: Case Study
In the United States local land trusts preserve and conserve land to protect water quality and supply, farmlands, habitat for native plants and animals, areas of cultural or historical significance, and scenic views. We surveyed the 24 active, local land trusts in North Carolina (U.S.A.) to determine how they report progress toward attaining such conservation goals. Twenty-two land trusts responded to our survey. Of these, eight reported developing specific conservation goals for all of the properties they protect, five identified conservation targets on all properties, and two reported monitoring biological indicators on all of their protected properties. On the basis of these results, we believe most of the land trusts surveyed could not determine whether they were meeting conservation goals because most did not identify explicit, measurable goals and monitor progress toward them. Instead they reported success in terms of the amount of land protected and money raised. We think this is a lost opportunity for land trusts to build sound approaches to environmental management, engage the public, entice new donors, and attain funding for additional conservation activities. We propose conservation professionals help local land trusts adopt the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, a framework developed by a consortium of international conservation organizations, to develop conservation goals and measure whether the goals are achieved.