Imagine being able to spot violations on your conserved properties without ever having to leave your office.

Think of being able to monitor two, three or even five properties in a single afternoon. That reality (and more!) is here now.

Land trusts across the country are using aerial imagery for stewardship in new and exciting ways. They can choose from a variety of geospatial technologies that can improve stewardship by easily identifying threats to conservation values while at the same time reducing monitoring costs and increasing efficiencies. It’s a brave new world of stewardship technology, but it can be daunting to figure out whether remote monitoring is right for your land trust and where to start. The Land Trust Alliance created this toolkit to provide you with the information you and your team need to make the right decisions on remote monitoring for your land trust.

A note on terminology

The terms "remote monitoring" and "aerial monitoring" are used interchangeably in this toolkit. "Remote sensing" is synonymous with "remote technologies" and refers to the methods (rather than the concept of its use for monitoring). For more key terms, see the glossary.



Developed with support from NRCS, this toolkit includes content from the Alliance's remote monitoring grant programs in 2020 and 2021 with land trusts in Colorado and California.

In 2020 the Land Trust Alliance launched a pilot study with Keep it Colorado to grant money to 12 land trusts in Colorado and gathered the first feedback from land trusts using this emerging  technology. From that pilot study the Alliance received a grant from NRCS to publish this toolkit, the goal of which is to combine research and land trust experiences. In 2021 the California Chapter of The Nature Conservancy reached out to the Alliance to launch a remote monitoring grant program designed to help land trusts implement remote monitoring programs. An additional grant program sponsored in the southeast supported seven more land trusts. In total, 42 land trusts of all sizes and missions from around the country received grants. From their experiences, we have drawn a wealth of information that is shared throughout this toolkit.


In this toolkit, you will find:

Land trusts use remote monitoring because of its versatility and benefits, which include more stewardship coverage and time and money savings. The increased use of remote monitoring among land trusts is resulting in an ever-expanding application of this technology for everything from climate change, carbon sequestration and parcel-by-parcel evaluation. The Land Trust Alliance presents this toolkit as a part of its commitment to support land trusts as they expand their technical expertise and advance their stewardship of natural and working lands.