The Land Trust Alliance formed a Program Design Steering Committee in 2004 to begin exploring options for a land trust accreditation program. Throughout the next several months, several rounds of public input were collected through interviews, surveys, focus groups, conference calls, web dialogue, and other venues. The Alliance board approved the creation of a voluntary and trust accreditation program to be managed by a commission incorporated as a subsidiary of the Alliance, and in April 2006 the Land Trust Accreditation Commission was founded as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance.
The Commission conducted two rounds of pilot applications in 2007 and, after holding a lottery in fall 2007, accepted the initial applications in the spring of 2008. The inaugural accreditation awards ceremony was held at Rally 2008: The National Land Conservation Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. Today, there are more than 150 accredited land trusts across the country.
The mission of the Land Trust Accreditation Commission is to recognize community institutions that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.
Vision for the Future
The Commission envisions a future in which land trusts have made dramatic gains in land conserved, membership, practices and overall effectiveness. The continuing increase in citizen leadership and professionalism in land trusts reflects the growth of the movement into a well-respected force serving the public interest. The growing pool of accredited land trusts reflects the broad diversity of organization sizes, missions and geography – united by strong ethical practices and by a commitment to sound transactions and the long-term stewardship of land and conservation easements. The land trust accreditation program is a model of self-regulation in the nonprofit sector. It is run by a Commission that reflects and responds to its diverse constituents and has earned the trust of land trusts, regulators, funders, and others. As a result, land conservation is widely supported by private philanthropy and government policies, and more land is permanently conserved.
Statement of Values
In our actions and in our goals for the land trust community, the Commission aspires to the following values.
To be clear and honest in our communications with land trusts, the public and others; to build trust in, and respect for, the accreditation program; to respect the confidentiality of data provided to us.
To operate an accreditation program that is fair and makes consistent decisions; to learn from and respond to the land conservation community, the public and other stakeholders.
To manage an accreditation program that is efficient and makes productive use of participants' time; to work cooperatively with land trusts of all types and sizes as they go through the accreditation process.