In 2011, the Texas Land Conservancy was awarded accredited status from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, making TLC only the second land trust in Texas to earn this honor, and one of 130 across the country.
What does it mean to be an accredited land trust?
Accredited land trusts have been evaluated against the entire set of Land Trust Standards & Practices set forth by the Land Trust Alliance. LTA maintains these evaluation tools as a way to measure the quality of a land trust's work and its ablity to meet its perpetual obligations to the land and landowners it serves. Of the 88 standards and practices, an accredited land trust must demonstrate current and historical compliance with the most vital of these. Accreditation provides independent verification of the 26 indicator practices from Land Trust Standards and Practices that show a land trust's ability to operate in an ethical, legal and technically sound manner and ensure the long-term protection of land in the public interest.
Applicants for voluntary land trust accreditation must demonstrate compliance with a set of accreditation indicator practices selected from Land Trust Standards & Practices. These practices are designated by the Land Trust Alliance and indicate a land trust’s ability to operate in an ethical, legal and technically sound manner and ensure the long-term protection of land in the public interest.
Indicator practices are chosen based on the following criteria:
Accreditation provides public recognition of land trusts that are engaged in the long-term protection of the land in the public interest, thereby increasing public awareness of, and confidence in, land trusts and land conservation. The accreditation seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation. Itl lets the public know that the accredited land trust has undergone an extensive, external review of the governance and management of its organization and the systems and policies it uses to protect land.
What did TLC have to do to become accredited?
TLC's road to accreditation began way back in 2005, when the Board made a committment to adhere to the first version of LTA's Standards and Practice. In 2008, however, our work to become accredited began in earnest. With the assistance of Donna Erickson Consulting, we spent late 2008 and early 2009 in an intensive organizational assessment, the results of which allowed us to revamp our policies and procedures, bringing them fully into compliance with Standards & Practices. Our Accreditation Committee (Kate Vickery, Mark Steinbach, Polly Shields, Michael Jung, Janell Morgan and Pat Spillman) spent the greater part of 2009 making these revisions.
Once our policies and procedures were properly revised and updated, we spent time making sure that we could demonstrate compliance with all of these standards through our historical and permanent organizational records. There are few non-profit organizations that have to ensure perpetual maintanence of its obligation, so we paid particular attention to clarifying that we have done everything in our power to ensure this permance on behalf of the land we conservce and the landowners we serve.
The application portion of accreditation included a pre-application, an intensive application to show compliance with the 26 indicator practices, an interview with the Commission, and several follow-up requests for information. After months of hard work, our efforts paid off in early 2011, when the Commission awarded us accredited status and the official Accrediation Seal.
Where to find more information:
February 2011 press release annoucing accreditation status
Land Trust Accreditation Commission website
List of Accredited land trusts nationwide
TLC newsletter article about the history of land trusts, LTA, and the Accreditation process