On March 19, 1994, a workshop was hosted by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) to discuss the potential of establishing a community land trust in New Brunswick. Peter deMarsh from the New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners, Clark Phillips from Whaelghinbran Farm and David Coon from the CCNB agreed to act as a small steering committee to develop a proposal for a community land trust in the province.
Following four meetings and discussions with legal and financial experts, the original workshop participants were invited to reconvene at an October meeting in 1994 to discuss the steering committee’s work. By-laws for incorporation as a non-profit organization were then drafted, granting the NBCLT charitable status.
The small group of individuals that helped to establish the NBCLT recognized the importance of sustainable forest management to both maintain ecological integrity and generate marketable wood products capable of supporting the rural economy. They watched with concern as rural lands were transferred to industrial holdings, managed by industrial methods, and contributed less to the rural economy. They felt that offering trust mechanisms to limit unsustainable land use practices would ensure that rural land would remain available for production and continue to contribute to the local rural economy.
The New Brunswick Community Land Trust was formally established in 1995, offering farmland and woodlot owners the opportunity to limit or restrict certain land use practices on their land through land Trust mechanisms.
In 1998, the New Brunswick government passed legislation allowing non-profits to hold conservation easements (CE) on land that would limit identified land
Through the late 1990’s and into the early 2000’s, the NBCLT continued to function but did not launch any land projects. In 2002, the NBCLT gained seed funding from the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund and hired staff to initiate work on a conservation easement on a working woodlot. Marc Spence and Ghita Levin became the first woodlot owners in New Brunswick to move forward with developing a conservation easement that focused on maintaining a sustainable harvest level at its foundation.
Today, the organization holds easements on over 1000 acres and performs yearly reviews of those easements to ensure ecological management practices are upheld in perpetuity. As the only organization in New Brunswick holding and stewarding easements on working lands, a non-traditional area of conservation, the NBCLT offers a valuable service to the province’s rural economy while also filling an important niche in the larger conservation ecosystem. Currently however the NBCLT receives more easement proposals than it has the capacity to steward.