Accelerating climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, posing equal threats to nature and people.
Forests are a critical resource in mitigating climate change. The Appalachian Mountain region, stretching fifteen hundred miles from Alabama to Canada, includes massive stores of forest carbon, absorbing a million tons of air pollution each year.
The vast region — the world's largest temperate broadleaf forest — is an essential resilient refuge for plants and animals, particularly as the climate changes. Tens of millions of people also call the region home, relying on its forests and waters for their health and well-being. But the Appalachian forest faces significant threats from encroaching development, poor management, and mineral and energy extraction.
To ensure that the region continues to support plants, animals, and people, the Open Space Institute has launched the Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund, an $18 million effort to protect fifty thousand acres in key areas of focus along the Appalachian Range. To complement land protection efforts, OSI’s Catalyst Program will work in partnership with states, local communities, Native American tribes, and land trusts to reduce climate risks for communities disproportionately affected by flooding and other climate-induced threats.
The fund builds on the success of OSI's Resilient Landscapes Initiative (2013-20), which advanced the use of Climate Resilience Science in land protection. This climate science remains a priority for the new fund, along with an emphasis on forests’ ability to store and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
Grants will be awarded to not-for-profit conservation organizations and, in some cases, land trusts and government entities, including Native American Tribes and municipalities. (Land trusts must be accredited by the Land Trust Alliance or be on the path to accreditation.) OSI is seeking to secure $18 million to deploy over four years through the fund, with $12.5 million raised or conditionally committed to date. OSI has allocated $5.25 million to the Cradle of Southern Appalachia focus area (Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee); $1.1 million to the Mid-Atlantic focus area (New Jersey, Pennsylvania); and $1.85 million to the Northern Appalachians focus area (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont). Additional funds will be allocated based on monies raised and project demand.
The fund does not have a minimum or maximum grant size, but awards typically will range between $50,000 and $400,000.
OSI plans to announce future grants rounds every eight to ten months through 2023.
Applications for capital grants will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. (EST) on April 14.
OSI will be hosting an informational webinar on March 8 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST. During the webinar, OSI staff will review the Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund Capital Grant process, including science and criteria, and will address any questions. (Registration required.)
For complete program details and eligibility criteria, see the Open Space Institute website.