American Friends of Canadian Land Trusts (American Friends) has a focused purpose and unique role – protecting ecologically important land in Canada owned by conservation-minded Americans, in collaboration with Canadian conservation organizations.
American Friends is protecting land all across Canada, from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. Canada’s spectacular natural lands – seacoasts, forests, prairies, lakes, rivers, and islands – provide important ecological, economic, recreational, cultural, social and scenic benefits. These landscapes are defined by nature rather than political boundaries. Canada’s treasured landscapes, particularly those within a day’s drive of population centers in the US and Canada, are increasingly threatened. Demographics are causing big ownership shifts; as aging landowners sell their highly appreciated properties the new owners of these expensive properties are using them more intensively.
US taxpayers own a significant percentage of those priority conservation lands, for example:
- 25% of Nova Scotia’s coast is owned by non-Canadians, most of whom are US taxpayers
- In parts of Lake Huron’s ecologically-significant Georgian Bay, Americans own up to 80% of the properties
- Americans own as much as 30% of private land in the beautiful Southern Gulf Islands in British Columbia
Land protection professionals identify protection of American-owned lands as critical for conservation success in many parts of Canada. Before the creation of American Friends in 2007, they found US and Canadian tax laws to be nearly insurmountable barriers to donations of land or conservation easements from US taxpayers.
American Friends removed those tax and legal barriers, encouraging and facilitating “cross-border conservation” – Canadian land protected by US property owners.