Inspiring Conservation Leadership

On October 19th – 21st, the Ontario Farmland Trust attended the Ontario Land Trust Alliance’s (OLTA) annual 3 day gathering in Orillia, Ontario. OLTA is a charity that supports and builds on the land trust movement by guiding Ontario’s land trusts as they work to protect land. This year, OLTA’s annual event titled ‘Inspiring Conservation Leadership’ allowed land trusts from across Ontario, as well as a handful from other provinces, to come together.

‘It was an excellent opportunity for learning, networking and addressing the successes and challenges facing land trusts today’ said Kathryn Enders, Executive Director of Ontario Farmland Trust.

The event kicked off with a field trip to the protected Little Bluestem Alvar Property, a 654-acre parcel owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and co-managed by the Couchiching Conservancy. This site protects an alvar, a globally rare landform recognizable by an open habitat, a thin layer of topsoil, and a base of limestone pavement. The Bluestem Alvar provides habitat for a rich diversity of specialized image-16plants and animals. On this field trip, participants were lucky enough to see fresh bear tracks in the mud and a newly hatched snake.

The rest of the event focused on presentations and workshops on diverse topics ranging from increasing member engagement, panel discussions of conservation agreements, to reviewing appraisals. One presentation celebrated the 130 years that land trusts have been active and allowed for participants to reflect, examine, and collaborate on addressing the challenges of operating a trust.

‘I really enjoyed the opportunity to explore a number of topics in great depth, and will be using the knowledge gained from this event as we move forward’ said Enders. ‘I am eagerly anticipating attending again next year.

The event was closed by Dr. Dianne Saxe, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Dr. Saxe is a certified environmental law specialist and is acknowledged as one of the world’s top environmental lawyers. At OLTA, she discussed the important and quickly emerging role that land trusts play within the land conservation field, and spoke to the conference’s importance as an opportunity to hear the latest ideas and updates in the sector.

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