What’s the difference, we’re often asked, between the Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust, and organizations such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada or Ontario Nature? Why TIWLT or one of the others? There are actually 31 regional/local land trusts, as well as the Ontario Farmland Trust, the NCC, Ontario Nature, and others in Ontario alone.
First off, we’re all on the same page. This is not a competition. We’re all conserving land valued for habitat, protection of wildlife and connectivity of other protected spaces. That there are these several organizations working locally, provincially, and nationally in land conservation shows how important such work is. All of these organizations can have the same set of “tools” – certification as charities, with abilities in tax laws and legal abilities to help landowners find conservation solutions that fit their needs.
And so, why TIWLT? As Stewart McLean’s “Dave” said of the Vinyl Café, “We may not be big, but we’re small”. This land trust has been around for nearly 30 years, one of Canada’s oldest land trusts. TIWLT is local, volunteer based, part of the community, and part of the neighbourhood. We most often know the landowners with whom we work, and certainly know the landscape and neighbours. Our costs per land transaction – legal, appraisal and the biology surveys that must be done – are essentially the same as the provincial and national organizations. But as a small organization we have little overhead in terms of office costs, infrastructure, promotion, and staff. That makes us quite flexible and nimble.
“We may not be big, but we’re small”Stuart McLean
The Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust has often worked partnerships on conserving land with the big outfits. We’ve raised funds together on projects on Gananoque Lake’s Lost Bay with Ontario Nature, and have helped the Nature Conservancy with a number of projects such as Old Baldy on Charleston Lake. At the same time, we’ve worked with local conservation partners and many landowners here. We’ll spend the time and energy it takes to tailor landowners’ wishes to meet their needs and legacies. TIWLT has conserved twice as much land in this region as the big organizations, combined. But again, it’s not a competition. Conservation is very, very important in this special place in Canada, and on the continent. And TIWLT is the community conservation group that with this community’s support can make that happen.
– By Don Ross, President