OSI launched the Saving New England’s Wildlife fund in 2009 to accelerate the protection of New England’s most ecologically rich habitats and most at-risk species, as identified and mapped in scientifically rigorous state wildlife action plans. The projects supported by the fund – and the partnerships it created – built a foundation for our ongoing work to conserve the places that will harbor diverse plant and animal life in a changing climate.
Why Saving New England’s Wildlife Fund
As one of the earliest regions in the country to be settled, as well as an early place of the conservation movement, New England is often seen as a model for maintaining thriving ecological communities in a landscape shaped and dominated by humans.
New England contains a rich variety of habitats, from forested mountain headwaters to river bottomlands; from vernal pools to salt-marsh estuaries. But now, sprawl is reaching into the forestlands and filling up the coastal plains, destroying core habitats and severing the natural corridors that allow animals to migrate and adapt to climate change.
Conserving wildlife habitat on an effective scale is especially challenging in densely populated central New England, where development pressure is greater, properties are smaller, and prices are higher. With Saving New England’s Wildlife Fund, OSI sought to draw scarce public and private funds to wildlife habitat protection in this region, focusing on projects identified as the highest priority in state wildlife action plans.
Impact of the Fund
The Fund supported 30 projects protecting more than 20,000 acres of the most ecologically rich yet vulnerable landscapes in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. In addition, it preserved habitat for imperiled species, filled gaps in protected networks for wide-ranging mammals, and safeguarded critical stopovers and breeding grounds for migratory birds. OSI’s investment of $5 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation was matched 10-to-1 by federal, state, and philanthropic funding.
By increasing land trusts’ awareness of their role in protecting wildlife diversity – and fostering ties between trusts and state wildlife agencies – the program built momentum for ongoing habitat protection in New England.