Across the country, communities and ecosystems are experiencing climate change and grappling with its unknowns. How much will temperatures rise and how quickly? How will these changes impact the forests, streams, and wildlife we protect?
Despite this uncertainty, scientists agree: land protection is, and will remain, a key strategy for ensuring that natural systems — and the plants, animals, and people that depend upon them — can continue to thrive.
Since 2012, OSI has been helping land trusts and other groups that protect and steward land develop effective approaches to conserving land in a rapidly changing climate. Working alongside our capital grants program that funds the acquisition of land that is resilient and stores and sequesters carbon, OSI has supported the development of over 70 climate-aligned conservation plans and offered workshops, webinars, and trainings to over 6,000 participants.
OSI’s Catalyst Program currently focuses on addressing the following climate issues: habitat resilience, forest carbon storage and sequestration, and community resilience to climate impacts such as flooding. We support conservation groups and communities by offering planning grants and technical assistance, authoring guidance documents, and hosting workshops.
Land and Climate Catalyst Planning Grants
Through a collaboration between Open Space Institute and Land Trust Alliance, $300,000 is available in the 2023 grant round to help land trusts, other not-for-profit organizations, and state and federally recognized Tribes integrate climate science into strategic land protection plans or forest stewardship plans.
Land trusts may also apply for climate-informed land conservation planning or communications technical support from the Land Trust Alliance. Qualified applicants can apply for grants between $5,000 - $15,000 and/or for one-on-one technical support. All projects must be completed within twelve months.
The application has now closed. Please sign up here to receive notification about future requests for proposals and updates on OSI’s Climate Catalyst program.
Please contact OSI Conservation Planning Manager Hallie Schwab ([email protected]) with any questions.
Past Grant Rounds
Learn about three of the projects supported in the 2021 grant round here.
Learn about five of the projects supported in the 2022 grant round here.
OSI works with partners to distill research and best practices into practical guides to inform strategic land protection and land management. See several examples of this work below.
- The Role of Land Protection in Mitigating Freshwater Flooding Hazard: This report summarizes five land protection and conservation planning strategies that harness land protection to curb flood impacts and outlines the critical role that land trusts can play in supporting community resilience as the climate changes.
- Conserving Nature in a Changing Climate provides a user-friendly workbook for land trusts and other conservation organizations to gain the knowledge and tools to fulfill their critical missions, even in the face of uncertainty. With a basic knowledge of relevant climate science and the tools described in this guide, conservation leaders can revisit and revise their land protection goals, and confidently explain to funders, board members, and landowners why their efforts matter now more than ever. The workbook, developed in partnership with the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Collaborative and a team of land trust advisors, includes a free online mapping platform to help land trusts identify climate resilient sites. This tool, built for the Northeast, complements The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient Land Mapping Tool.
- Meeting the Challenge of Climate: How Land Trusts, Policymakers, and Public Agencies Can Achieve Carbon Goals Through Strategic Forest Protection: Developed in consultation with scientists and experts at American Forests, The Nature Conservancy, and the Land Trust Alliance, this guide provides criteria for the selection, completion, and successful management of land protection projects for the capture and storage of forest carbon.
- Six Simple Steps: Evaluate the Contribution of your Land Protection Project to a Low Carbon Future: This short ‘how to’ guide walks through a series of steps for using an online tool to evaluate how much carbon a forest protection project stores today, and how much additional carbon could be sequestered by 2050.
- How to Talk About Climate Change: This report from the Land Trust Alliance and the Open Space Institute offers guidance to help land trusts connect on climate issues and effectively communicate about the benefits of protecting land with climate in mind.
Climate-informed Planning Case Studies
- Protecting the Coast in a Changing Climate - 12 Rivers Conservation Initiative, Maine
- Corridors and Climate: Planning for Regional Species Flow - Lakes Region Conservation Trust, New Hampshire
- More than Maps: Climate Data Create Connections – North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership, Massachusetts
Workshops & Trainings
Sorting through the vast amount data and scientific concepts related to climate change can be overwhelming. OSI frequently offers webinars, in-person trainings, and conference presentations with guidance and approaches to help land trusts address climate impacts in their communities.
To date, in OSI’s workshops and presentations we have covered topics of terrestrial climate resilience, carbon mitigation, sea-level rise, wildlife corridors, flood hazard mitigation, and climate communications.
OSI’s education and outreach complement our Appalachian Landscapes Land Protection Fund. For more information, please visit the Fund page.
This program is made possible through support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Jane’s Trust Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the Merck Family Fund, the Volgenau Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, and several generous individual donors.