Funding

Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund

Why the Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund?

Accelerating and unprecedented climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, posing equal threats to nature and people.

Our forests are a critical support to help adapt to and mitigate climate change. The Appalachian Mountain region, stretching 1,500 miles from Alabama to Canada, includes massive stores of forest carbon, absorbing 1 million tons of air pollution each year. 

This 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 this region home, relying on its forests and waters for their health and well-being. (Read OSI's report that highlights the critical role of land protection in mitigating carbon pollution.)

Yet the Appalachian forest faces significant threats from encroaching development, poor management, and mineral and energy extraction.

To ensure that this region continues to support plants, animals, and people, OSI has launched the Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund, an $18 million effort that will provide capital grants to protect 50,000 acres in key focus areas along the Appalachian Range. To complement land protection efforts, OSI’s Catalyst Program will work in partnership with states, local communities, Tribes, and land trusts, to reduce climate risks for communities disproportionately affected by flooding and other climate-induced threats.

This Fund builds on the success of OSI's Resilient Landscapes Initiative (2013 - 2020), which advanced the use of Climate Resilience Science in land protection. This climate science remains a priority in this new fund, along with a new emphasis on forests’ ability to store and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

Capital Grant Applications projects are being accepted until 5 p.m. (EST) on April 14, 2021. 

Capital Grant Focus Areas

The Fund awards capital grants for land protection in portions of (1) the Cradle of Southern Appalachia (Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama), (2) the Middle Atlantic (New Jersey and Pennsylvania), and (3) the Northern Appalachians (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont). See a map of all focus areas, as well as individual maps of the Cradle of Southern Appalachia, Middle Atlantic, and Northern Appalachians focus areas.

Project Eligibility and Criteria

Eligible land conservation projects must lie wholly or partly in one of the Fund’s focus areas, have strong climate resilience attributes, and be managed to enhance forest carbon. Visit the Focus Area Screening Tool to assess whether a project lies in an Appalachian Landscape Protection Fund focus area.

OSI will further assess projects for their carbon storage and sequestration potential, natural resource attributes, the likelihood of success, and the threat of forest loss. Please consult the complete list of Eligibility and Evaluation Criteria.

Equity Considerations

OSI is committed to advancing equity and justice in grant-making and to supporting organizations that identify as Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color. In this grant round, we will ask applicants equity-related questions, but we will not evaluate grant applications or organizations against equity criteria. We are committed to mutual learning and to receiving guidance from and evolving alongside our colleagues and grantees as we consider how to best embed equity into our grant-making and the projects we support.

Eligible Entities, Grant Awards, & Uses of Funds

OSI makes grants to qualified not-for-profit conservation organizations through a competitive process with the assistance of an Advisory Committee with expertise in land protection, climate science, social equity, and philanthropy. OSI may also make grants to 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, as evidenced by a board resolution. Non-accredited land trusts and government entities should contact OSI staff prior to application.

OSI staff and the Fund’s Advisory Committee review applications against the Fund’s criteria and goals. Once OSI has conditionally approved a grant, we will provide the grantee with a checklist of items required for OSI to prepare a grant agreement. OSI will release funds at the time the transaction closes.

Grants must be used to acquire land or permanent conservation easements. In exceptional cases, grants may be applied to cover transactional costs, including cost of appraisals, surveys, title, and environmental assessments. The Fund may also provide short-term low-interest loans for projects that require bridge financing. Grant funds cannot be used for stewardship endowments, staff time, land management or restoration, or building construction or maintenance.

Fund Availability

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. At this juncture, OSI has allocated $5,250,000 in capital funds to the Cradle of Southern Appalachia; $1,100,000 to the Mid-Atlantic; and $1,845,000 to the Northern Appalachians Focus Area. We will allocate additional funds based on monies raised and project demand.

The Fund does not have a minimum or maximum grant size, but awards are typically between $50,000 and $400,000.

OSI plans to announce future grants rounds every eight to ten months through 2023.

Catalyst Program

OSI’s Catalyst program complements our capital grants with ongoing education and outreach along with financial support for integrating climate into conservation planning. Learn about OSI’s Climate Catalyst program here.

Next Steps to Apply

OSI is now accepting Capital Grant applications through April 14, 2021, until 5 p.m. EST.

All grant applications must be submitted through OSI’s online grant portal. Before preparing a proposal, applicants are encouraged to contact OSI staff for their region.

Application Documents

Please review these documents before completing your application:


Project Inquiries (Cradle of Southern Appalachia)

Joel Houser

Southeast Field Coordinator

(423) 364-5980

Project Inquiries (Northern Appalachians)

Jennifer Melville  

Vice President, Conservation Grants

207-846-9700

Project Inquiries (Middle Atlantic)

Bill Rawlyk

Middle Atlantic Field Coordinator

908-628-4299

Administrative/Application Inquiries

Yasemin Unal-Rodriguez

Administrative/Database

(212) 290-8200 x1311

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