Conservation Trust for Florida, Inc.(CTF) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit land trust. We work with private landowners to protect their farms, ranches, and timberlands. CTF also works to preserve natural areas and wildlife corridors, like the Ocala to Osceola Wildlife Corridor.
CTF works with landowners to find the best land conservation solution to meet their long-term financial and land management needs. Options include conservation easements, purchase or donation of land, carbon credits, and assistance with landowner succession and estate planning.
Protecting farms for future generations. Florida has a rich agricultural tradition. The ideal climate makes Florida the leader in many food and fiber crops, but this tradition is changing as the majority of farmers are over 55 years old. Within the next two decades, close to one-half of Florida’s agricultural lands will change hands. The work of land trusts will help protect these working rural landscapes for future generations.
What is a Land Trust?
Land Trusts are private, not-for-profit organizations, often directed by like-minded property owners working to conserve land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical and productive values. A land trust works with willing landowners and the community to protect these special features.
Because of the several tax benefits for landowners associated with conserving land, Conservation Trust for Florida often accepts direct donations of land, and private conservation agreements. The Trust can also negotiate land transactions, provide stewardardship for conserved land, or even purchase land when funds are available. Read about the options!
Land trusts are dependent upon donations of cash, trade lands, and other resources offered by their served communities. Land trusts are located across the United States, and are run primarily by volunteer boards?they are not government agencies. In 1950 just 53 land trusts operated in 26 states. Today, more than 1,200 land trusts operate across the country, serving every state in the nation. The idea is clearly catching on!
Land trusts show landowners how protecting their land is a powerful way to preserve a legacy, their family’s beloved farm, or to be a community conservation leader while saving themselves considerable tax dollars.
History of the Conservation Trust
The Conservation Trust for Florida, Inc. is a non-profit land trust that was founded in 1999 by a group of professional conservationists to address the need to protect rural land and natural areas in Florida. To date, the CTF has helped to preserve over 10,000 acres of special Florida lands.
David Carr was the founding executive director of CTF, and remains a member of the Board of Directors. He had previously served as executive director of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation. Dr. Gary Meffe, Editor-in-Chief of the international scientific journal Conservation Biology, served as the founding facilitator and as executive director from 2002 until 2003. Former Executive Director Busy Shires Byerly has worked on projects with leading conservation organizations such as The Wildlands Project, Defenders of Wildlife, and the National Gap Analysis Program.
The Board of Directors of the Conservation Trust for Florida is an entirely volunteer group of individuals committed to the mission of protecting working rural landscapes. Meet our board members!
With talents ranging from ecological and forestry sciences to conservation biology, accounting, environmental education, law, and public planning, these individuals serve to guide and advance the many projects and education programs that CTF pursues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are land trusts government agencies?
No, they are independent, nonprofit organizations that work with landowners who are interested in protecting open space. But land trusts can work cooperatively with government agencies by acquiring or managing land, researching open space needs and priorities, or assisting in the development of open space plans.
What has contributed to the huge growth in the number of land trusts?
The irreversible loss of open space has motivated many people to work in their own communities. They see subdivisions supplanting the open spaces where they once walked and hiked and saw local produce growing, and they want to know how they can gain the power to save the green spaces that make their communities unique. They turn to land trusts as the most efficient way to protect those important values.
So, what are the advantages of working with a land trust?
Land trusts are very closely tied to the communities in which they operate. Moreover, land trusts' nonprofit tax status brings them a variety of tax benefits. Donations of land, conservation easements or money may qualify you for income, estate, or gift tax savings. Moreover, because they are private organizations, land trusts can be more flexible and creative than public agencies, and can often act more quickly in their efforts to save land.
Learn how help farmers and landowners protect the character of their property and plan for its future.
View this inspiring and informative video by Former Florida Governor Buddy MacKay, who is also a member of CTF's Advisory Board. He talks about the importance of protecting wildlife corridors and protecting land for conservation. Video is by the University of Florida, IFAS as part of the Springs Protection Workshop in May 2012 (11 minutes).