In anticipation of the upcoming second-annual South Carolina Land Trust Days, we’re excited to share with you more information about what land trusts are, the role of the South Carolina Land Trust Network, and how you can get involved this fall!
All About Land Trusts
Land trusts across the country play a pivotal role in preserving natural landscapes, safeguarding cultural heritage, and promoting sustainable development. They are nonprofit organizations dedicated to the conservation and protection of land for the benefit of current and future generations. Land trusts achieve this by placing easements on, acquiring, and/or stewarding land, often working in partnership with government agencies, private donors, and local communities to do so.
As of 2023, land trusts in the United States have conserved over 61 million acres of land, according to the Land Trust Alliance. These conserved lands include critical wildlife habitats, recreational areas, and agricultural lands.
The work done by land trusts preserves vital habitats for wildlife, maintains water quality, and mitigates the fragmentation of ecosystems. By conserving forests and wetlands, land trusts also contribute to carbon sequestration, helping to combat climate change. Land trusts also enhance the quality of life for communities by providing opportunities for recreation, education, and cultural preservation. They offer recreational activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and nature study, promoting physical and mental well-being.
The South Carolina Land Trust Network
In the 1990s, leaders from various land trusts around South Carolina began meeting informally to discuss shared interests, obstacles, and opportunities to collaborate. The group identified itself as the South Carolina Land Trust Network (SCLTN) and, by 2015, began steps to create an organizational structure with a board of directors and standing committees of land trust representatives from around the state.
In January 2016, a feasibility study was initiated by volunteer stakeholders throughout South Carolina to determine how to strengthen the SC Land Trust Network. By the Fall of 2017, Together SC became the organization’s fiscal agent. By December 2017, SCLTN secured an organizational development grant from The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation to implement the strategic plan and to establish SCLTN as a formal organization.
Over the next three years, the organization hosted quarterly network meetings for conservation organizations throughout the state and individual meetings with state legislators and other stakeholder groups. During this time, the volunteer leaders of SCLTN simultaneously coordinated efforts to finalize the organization’s overall strategic plan.
In August 2019, the SCLTN Board of Directors, which includes Lowcountry Land Trust President & CEO Ashley Demosthenes, appointed a State Coordinator to lead the effort to establish the organization as an independent, nonprofit organization and create the organization’s policies & procedures, marketing strategies, and fund development plan.
Today, the South Carolina Land Trust Network promotes land conservation and strengthens the land trust community throughout South Carolina. SCLTN represents land trusts throughout the state of South Carolina by:
- presenting a united front in support of land conservation,
- organizing opportunities to network and collaborate,
- providing access to resources and information, and
- promoting land conservation through statewide marketing initiatives.
Join us at the 2023 Land Trust Days (October 1-8)
Get outside and connect with the land trusts across the state during the South Carolina Land Trust Network’s Land Trust Days in early October. In this second annual celebration of South Carolina’s special places, local land trusts are uniting to help residents connect to the land and the people who work to protect it.
The Porters, SCLTN, Lowcountry Land Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Open Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and Open Space Institute have organized a program that features dynamic conversation and a comprehensive tour of the 2920-acre tree farm, half of which is protected via a conservation easement held by Lowcountry Land Trust. We’ll touch on the value of conservation easements in protecting our state’s natural resources, managing bottomland hardwoods for songbird habitat, and the benefits of growing longleaf pine.
The Porters look forward to sharing their passion for sustainable forestry, wildlife cultivation, and conserving precious land for future generations with you.