Signature Sanctuary

About Signature Sanctuary Certification

Audubon International's elite Signature Sanctuary Certification is for new or renovating golf courses, resorts, and communities. This certification involves comprehensive environmental planning with architects, owners, managers and key stakeholders to ensure sustainable design, construction and long-term management of your property.

Through this certification your efforts will be verified by science based environmental monitoring, which provides site specific results that showcase your efforts and indicate if there is an imbalance in your local ecosystem.

There are four levels of Signature Sanctuary Certification all of which include your open space, landscaped areas, and maintenance facility and can optionally add clubhouses, lounges, and lodging.

For information about joining AI's
Signature Sanctuary Certification
Please contact Mark O'Mell at

518-767-9051 ext 103


Make the Environment Part of Your Plan

The certification process includes:

  1. Enrollment
  2. Initial site assessment visit & site plan reviews
  3. Monthly reporting
  4. Development & approval of Natural Resource Management Plan
  5. Final environmental audit & site visit


What is the cost?

$15,500 USD to register which includes two site visits (excluding travel expenses), all Audubon International labor through certification, and first year membership fee.* There is a $950 membership fee each year thereafter and an $1,000 recertification site visit fee every three years.**

*Base fee for a single 18-hole golf course in North America (bronze, silver, gold level). International, multi-part projects and platinum level projects will receive a customized proposal.

**Additional site visits are available at $1,000/day plus travel expenses

"We have always shared Audubon International's philosophy that nature and golf can coexist in a shared environment. At Oitavos, we worked hand in hand to achieve this balance and found in many cases that Audubon International habitat requirements enhanced the beauty and intrigue of the golf experience. It's certainly a win-win situation for everyone."

- J. Drew Rogers, ASGCA, Golf Course Architect

Quinta la Marinha Oitavos Golfe

Benefits of Membership

Pursuing Audubon International Certification saves you money and conserves natural resources. A recent survey of Signature and Classic Sanctuary Certification members demonstrated that:

  • 90% of respondents reported that their annual maintenance and operations costs for their facility were either “lower than” or the “same as” the costs of an equivalent, non-Signature Sanctuary member property.
  • 90% stated that their certified Audubon International Signature Sanctuary status has or will have value in their marketing and promotional efforts.
  • 96% view their participation in the Signature Sanctuary Certification as “a good business decision.”
  • 63% of respondents stated that their participation has or will save money, as compared to a course designed, constructed, and managed without Audubon International assistance.
  • Almost half of respondents feel that their operations and maintenance costs are lower due to their participation in the Signature Sanctuary Certification track.

Additional benefits of Audubon International's Signature Sanctuary certification includes:

“Green appeal” marketing edge Pursue a market advantage by attracting people looking for green developments in which to live and play. Environmental Certification offers a distinct marketing edge over your competition–leading to increased or faster sales, increased sales prices or member fees, and lower marketing and holding costs.

Cost savings - Through certification, you’ll learn and put into practice cost-effective ways to develop, operate, and maintain your property…thus saving money and natural resources.

Reduced risk - Establishing and following your Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) reduces the risk and potential liability of using hazardous materials while also reducing the potential for on- and off-site pollution. Reduced risks in turn lower insurance, worker’s compensation costs, potential for adverse regulatory action and harmful publicity, and lost worker time.

Recognition for environmental leadership - Gain recognition for your leadership. As a certified Signature Sanctuary your property is a model for environmental stewardship and sets an example for other landowners and managers, consultants, and your surrounding community.


Environmental protection and enhancement - Audubon International Signature Sanctuaries take great pride in doing their part to further sustainable resource management. Join today to protect and preserve the environment for future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions

ASAP! This ensures you receive our guideline documents prior to final design and allows Audubon International staff to review your development site prior to or shortly after breaking ground.  

Achieving Signature Sanctuary certification takes one to three years depending on project size, speed of construction, and conformity with the program requirements.  After the initial visit/site walk-through, the team will have a better expectation of the timeline.

Ultimately, we support the concept of sustainable development. Audubon International recognizes that many properties will be developed for a variety of purposes, including golf. Our extensive work with golf courses has proven that properly sited, designed, and managed golf courses can be one of the lowest impact forms of development.  Golf courses can be developed in ways that provide wildlife habitat, protect water resources, and offer community and recreational values.

The Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) is based on Audubon International’s Principles for Sustainable Resource Management and includes:

  • Environmental Planning
  • Construction Timeline & Management
  • Best Management Practices
  • Landscaping & Cultural Practices
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Water Conservation & Water Quality Management
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Natural Resource Management Center
  • Waste management & Energy Planning
  • Wildlife & Habitat Enhancement

Members use qualified individuals or organizations to prepare the Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP). Once completed, the NRMP is submitted to Audubon International for review and approval. Your Signature Sanctuary Membership includes unlimited reviews prior to approval.

Your Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) will guide the project development team in implementing the recommendations and best management practices it contains. The NRMP offers guidance during planning, construction, development, and long-term management of the property once development is complete.  

Periodic updates to the NRMP may need to be made to address changing environmental conditions or accommodate new management practices.

Audubon International will make two site visits to your property prior to certification (1 for Initial Site Assessment & 1 for Final Audit). Once certified, Audubon International conducts a recertification site visit every three years.

Signature Sanctuaries undergo a recertification site visit every three years by an Audubon International staff member. The recertification process allows you to make continuous improvements and to maintain unlimited access to Audubon International’s technical assistance and member benefits.