The purpose of the ‘Linking Land Protection & Stewardship‘ project was to bring together conservation partners in key communities, identify common goals and seek opportunities for enhanced cooperation. The Ontario Farmland Trust along with the Ontario Stewardship and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance began the initiative in early 2012. A web-based survey was designed to gather information about current levels of collaboration among local land conservation groups was first distributed. Additionally, the survey was also intended to help identify challenges and opportunities relating to stewardship and securement of natural heritage and agricultural lands. The survey groups included stakeholders such as land stewardship organizations, land trusts, conservation authorities, municipalities, agricultural groups and farmers. Following the administration of the surveys, OFT co‐hosted six information and networking workshops in six different regions throughout Southern Ontario:
- Prince Edward County
- Perth-Huron Counties
- Niagara Region
- Wellington County
- York Region
- Halton Region
The workshops were intended to bring local conservation groups together to share information about each others’ work and brainstorm opportunities for enhanced collaboration. The goal of this one‐year initiative were to:
- – Develop strong working relationships between OFT, stewardship organizations, local land trusts, conservation authorities, municipalities and other environmental and agricultural groups;
- – Enhance the ability of stakeholders to collaborate on common goals related to land securement, stewardship and conservation, and landowner outreach and education;
- – Strengthen awareness of land protection and stewardship options among farmland owneroperators and other rural landowners for agricultural and natural heritage lands.
This project provided a forum for meaningful dialogue between groups that previously lacked opportunities to discuss challenges, overlapping priorities and mutual interests. Workshops also provided a learning opportunity for those working in land protection and stewardship, particularly around the work of the Ontario Farmland Trust, the multitude of land securement tools available to them, and understanding how to build stronger relationships with the farming community.
Workshop participants shared over 100 unique recommendations for new or enhanced cooperation between conservation groups in their local communities. Despite variation in comments between geographic areas, common themes emerged that highlight substantial opportunities for expanded collaboration in the pursuit of common land conservation goals. The project was completed in February 2013.
This project was generously supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation
(an agency of the Government of Ontario).