As changing climate threatens to unravel decades of work to protect wildlife habitats, land protection must focus on the places most likely to harbor plants and animals. Recognizing that challenge, we launched the Resilient Landscapes Initiative to integrate climate science into conservation planning and to protect resilient landscapes throughout the eastern United States.
Why Resilient Landscapes Funds
It is no longer enough to protect lands where plants and animals live today. Those places are changing, and plants and animals are shifting northward and to higher ground.
How can land conservation efforts maintain species diversity over the long term? More than a decade of research, from The Nature Conservancy and other scientists, is guiding the way.
The places most likely to support wildlife, scientists say, have large networks of interconnected and intact habitats. They also feature a variety of geology types and land formations, such as slopes, cliffs, valleys, and ravines. Such diverse places allow plants and animals to move within and between microclimates, better enabling wildlife to withstand an uncertain climate.
Climate-resilient lands not only protect wildlife but also provide natural defenses against flood, drought and other risks to people.
OSI launched our Resilient Landscapes Initiative in 2013 to work with other land trusts to identify and protect the places where wildlife can thrive in a changing world. OSI’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Jane’s Trust, the North Atlantic Landscape Cooperative and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program/Land Trust Alliance.
Learn more about the 2017 completed Resilient Landscape grant projects. Download pdf.
Impact of the Funds
Our leadership in translating climate science for land conservation has led to the integration of resiliency into the planning and outreach of leading land trusts. As of 2016, our Catalyst Program supported 20 projects for climate-responsive statewide or regional strategic planning.
As we work to demystify the application of climate science to land protection, we are helping to set an agenda to pinpoint and protect critical resilient lands. Together with the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Collaborative, we developed a how-to guide – including a free online mapping tool – for applying climate science to land protection: Conserving Nature in a Changing Climate: A Guide for Land Trusts in the Northeast.
We award matching grants for the acquisition of land or conservation easements that permanently protect places most likely to harbor the greatest species diversity as the climate changes. Grants are targeted to specific regions in the Northeast and Southeast, selected because of their ability to facilitate wildlife adaptation to climate change.
Northeast Resilient Landscapes Fund
Since 2013, we have awarded capital grants within four target areas: the Potomac Headwaters in West Virginia and Virginia; the Highlands and Kittatinny Ridge in New Jersey and Pennsylvania; the Middle Connecticut River in Vermont and Massachusetts; and forests in southern New Hampshire and Maine. Learn about or apply for grants through the Northeast Resilient Landscapes Fund.
Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund
Beginning in late 2014, we've made grants in the Southern Cumberlands of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee; the Southern Blue Ridge in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee; and the Greater Pee Dee River in South Carolina and North Carolina. Learn about or apply for grants through the Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund.
Catalyst grants give land trusts and other organizations the opportunity to build the knowledge base of key audiences and to gain the knowledge and tools to incorporate climate science into their land protection efforts. Preference is given to projects that apply climate science to conservation plans guiding a land trust, a consortium of organizations, or a region; inform the priorities of public and private funders, or advance applied research on new ways to integrate resilience science into land protection. Learn about or apply for grants through the Catalyst Program.