You may have heard us talk about the CAMAS Fund, or read about it in connection with one of the Conservancy’s land protection projects, and wondered, “What is it, really?” CAMAS stands for Conservation, Acquisition, Management And Stewardship. If you’ve ever donated on our website to Lands Protected in Perpetuity, you’ve given to the CAMAS Fund. Protection for us means conserving the natural ecological values of land: maintaining, and where feasible, enhancing native trees, plants, and wildlife in a healthy balance. There are several ways to do this, as the acronym CAMAS describes.
Here are the details.
This includes our most visible way of protecting land, the best-known project being the purchase of Saint John Point, placing a conservation covenant on it for perpetual protection, and transferring ownership to the Capital Regional District (CRD) Parks department. We’ve also worked behind the scenes to help other organizations to protect land: contributing dollars and time to the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s acquisition of Edith Point, and the CRD’s expansion of Mt. Parke Park.
While not an acquisition, another legally binding form of land protection is a covenant. The Conservancy
works with property holders to place covenants on the land they love, to ensure its protection after they
leave it. The Conservancy can provide basic advice on the complexities of the covenanting process, or conduct the required ecological assessment and other work. However, it’s important to note that we cannot provide financial or any other advice that would constitute a conflict of interest. In some cases, where the ecological value is merited, the Conservancy can assist landholders with the financial costs of creating a conservation covenant. The level of financial assistance is determined on a case-by-case basis by the Conservancy board of directors. Acquisitions for protection are by far the CAMAS Fund’s biggest expense.
All covenants the Conservancy holds need managing: writing a baseline report of the ecological state of the land at the time of covenanting, monitoring the condition of the land to ensure that the ecological values are maintained, and more. We created a Covenant Management Fund to pay for this work and the reporting requirements it entails. For any new covenant, we raise money through CAMAS to add to the fund to cover the additional management required. We cannot draw down the principal of this fund. We also raise money for a Covenant Defense Fund, which can be drawn down to start the process to enforce the covenant if a landholder breaches the covenant terms.
This involves a variety of activities. Mostly we seek grants for these, though the CAMAS Fund can supplement the grants when necessary.
One activity is to help landholders who seek support in taking care of their land without going as far as a legal covenant. We can work with people to define the area they wish to steward, the work involved in stewarding it, and help document this in a “stewardship agreement”. These agreements can range from very simple and informal to something that almost looks like, but isn’t, a legal document. What they have in common is that they capture the landholder’s desire, and because it’s written down, it provides the motivation to keep up the maintenance year after year. Because stewardship agreements have no legal standing, they don’t place any obligation on a buyer of the property. But a well stewarded property can inspire a future buyer to maintain the standard set by the seller.
Public education about stewardship can also be a form of stewardship.
If you’re interested in learning more about any of these activities, or applying them to your own land, we invite you to get in touch with the Conservancy office: 250-539-2535 or firstname.lastname@example.org