The Thames Talbot Land Trust is just one of 34 land trusts that are members of OLTA, the Ontario Land Trust Alliance. Modeled in part after the Land Trust Alliance in the U.S., it provides education and support to all these land trusts.
I was actually involved in establishing OLTA back in 1997, when it was the Ontario Nature Trust Alliance (ONTA). I served as the Chair of the group as it evolved into OLTA by 2003. Starting with a group of 13 trusts it has grown to 34, including 3 that are provincial in scope. After 2003 I turned my efforts to establishing the Ontario Farmland Trust.
OLTA's main interest is in education. It was a very creative time for the volunteer conservation sector and new ideas were developing rapidly. We soon discovered that the best source for 'how-to' were other land trusts who had already tried it. And thus the annual 'Land Trust Gathering' became the highlight of the alliance.
Trying to capture the new ideas and techniques that were evolving, another land trust leader and I wrote 'Creative Conservation: A Handbook for Ontario Land Trusts'. The book is still in use today. Most land trusts focus on fund-raising and purchase of natural areas, but with changes in legislation, conservation easements were also promoted. The Ontario Farmland Trust uses these exclusively. Keeping up with land and tax law is challenging!
Together the members of OLTA have conserved over 85000 acres of significant lands, and have become the driving force for creative conservation here in Ontario.