Ap Land Protection Fund Mac Stone 1400

Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund

Image Credit: Mac Stone

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 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 launched the Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund, an $18 million effort that provides capital grants to protect 50,000 acres in key focus areas along the Appalachian Range. To complement land protection efforts, OSI’s Climate Catalyst Program works in partnership with states, local communities, Tribes, land trusts, and other not-for-profit organizations 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. Climate resilience remains a priority in this new fund, along with new emphasis on forests’ ability to store atmospheric carbon and on community equity and inclusion. 

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 Kittatinny (New Jersey and Pennsylvania), (3) Western/Central Pennsylvania and, (4) the Northern Appalachians (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont).

Please note that during the May 2024 funding cycle, we are only accepting proposals for projects in the Cradle of Southern Appalachia, Western/Central Pennsylvania, and the Northern Appalachians focus areas.

See a map of all focus areas, as well as individual maps of the Cradle of Southern Appalachia, Kittatinny, Western/Central Pennsylvania, 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 eligible 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 (BIPoC) led. We ask applicants a series of equity-related questions. Applicant answers help reviewers learn about projects and regions, and how BIPoC and other communities might be impacted by conservation efforts.

Additionally, OSI has compiled an Appalachian Landscapes BIPoC Resource List, which brings together books, articles, and podcasts about land history and connection in the Appalachians. Applicants may find these materials, organized by ALPF Focus Areas, useful in addressing equity-related questions. We welcome feedback and suggestions for additions to this list.

Eligible Entities, Grant Awards, & Uses of Funds

OSI makes grants to qualified not-for-profit conservation organizations, federally and state-recognized Tribes, government entities, and municipalities through a competitive process with the assistance of an Advisory Committee with expertise in land protection, climate science, social equity, and philanthropy. For land trusts, OSI gives a preference to those with or seeking land trust accreditation.

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 recover 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

At this juncture, of funds raised or conditionally committed, OSI has allocated $6.6 million to the Cradle of Southern Appalachia; $2.6 million to the Kittatinny; $3 million in grant capital and $1 million in zero interest loan capital to Western/Central Pennsylvania; and $2.3 million 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 2024.

Catalyst Program

OSI’s Climate 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 accepting applications to the Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund for the Cradle of Southern Appalachia, Northern Appalachians and Western/Central Pennsylvania focus regions beginning May 1, 2024 through 5:00 pm EDT on June 14, 2024. Award decisions will be made by September 2024.

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

OSI staff will hold a free 90-minute informational session regarding the application process for all interested applicants on Thursday, May 16 at 12:00 pm EDT. Please REGISTER HERE for the session in advance.

Apply or learn more about OSI's Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund here.

Application Documents

Please review these documents before completing your application:

Project Inquiries (Cradle of Southern Appalachia & Northern Appalachians)

Joel Houser

Director of Capital Grants

(423) 364-5980

Project Inquiries (Kittatinny & Western / Central Pennsylvania)

Bill Rawlyk

Senior Project Manager, Mid-Atlantic

(908) 642-4747

Administrative/Database Inquiries

Yasemin Unal-Rodriguez

Conservation Capital Program Associate

(646) 578-0268

What You Can Do

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