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.
OSI believes that everyone should have full access to nature’s benefits. Yet race, ethnicity, gender, ability, income and sexual orientation can have an impact on access to nature and all it offers. To learn more about OSI’s commitment to equity and land justice, please visit Equity & OSI and read this message from OSI's President and CEO Kim Elliman.
OSI is committed to ensuring that all eligible applicants for OSI grants receive the support and accommodation they need to successfully complete proposals. Please reach out to OSI (see contact information at the bottom of the page) if your organization needs assistance with completing the application or providing the required materials.
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 July 2023 funding cycle, we are only accepting proposals for projects in the Cradle of Southern Appalachia, Western/Central Pennsylvania, and the 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.
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. In this grant round, 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.
Conservation Easements, Stewardship and Carbon Projects
Conservation easements and stewardship of ALPF grant projects must be consistent with the goals of the Fund: maintaining or increasing ecosystem resilience to climate change and increasing forest ecosystem carbon. Prior to submitting a grant proposal, applicants should review OSI’s Stewardship and Conservation Easement Standards & Carbon Project Guidelines. OSI grantees that choose to enroll their land conservation project in a carbon offset project should consult OSI's Forest Carbon Resource Guide and FAQ.
OSI has compiled conservation easement language from existing easements drafted by peer organizations that seek to address climate resilience and carbon protection. Click the download button below to access this document.
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 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.
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.
OSI gives preference to projects with a 4:1 or greater match. OSI may accept a lower match for projects that are spearheaded by Black, Indigenous and People of Color-led organizations. OSI will also consider a lower match for projects with outstanding carbon and resilience values where the applicant demonstrates other funding is not available. Please review the Match Requirements and FAQ for more details.
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.