Conserved land provides considerable public benefits. The lands protected by land trusts help provide clean water, protect habitat for wildlife and plants and help fight the impacts of climate change. Some land trusts work in urban locations, creating community gardens, protecting green spaces and planting trees that cool air temperatures and reduce air pollution. Other land trusts work in rural areas, protecting family farms and ranches, conserving forests and securing water resources.
Most land trust projects start through the generosity of private landowners, and many of these lands are open to the public. In fact, 80 percent of land trusts provide public access to their protected lands, according to the 2020 National Land Trust Census, amounting to 1.2 million acres of land and 9,761 miles of trails open to the public.
Land trusts also offer a wide variety of programs and events that connect community members to the land. In 2020, 6.4 million people participated in land trust programs such as story walks for children, nature hikes and bike rides for the adventurous, exercise classes in nature for health and wellness, farmers markets and community gardens that put fresh food on the kitchen table, and so much more.
Land trusts do not do this work alone. They partner with libraries, gyms, community centers, farmers co-ops, local businesses, extension agents, schools, hospitals and other nonprofits to connect people with the land in ways that are meaningful to them.