On the Southern Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, a landscape of unrivaled ecological richness, we are helping to save forest strongholds for plant and animal species.
Guided by our research on how the Southern Appalachians will respond to climate change, OSI launched the Fund in 2012 to accelerate the protection of forests on the plateau most likely to support species diversity as the climate shifts.
Why Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund
A tenth of the world’s biodiversity can be found in the astonishingly varied landscapes and habitats of the Southeast. One of the most ecologically rich parts of the region is the remote and still largely wild Southern Cumberland Plateau.
With its vast hardwood forests, rocky ridges, lush ravines, underground caves, and limestone soils, the plateau supports a great diversity of aquatic and terrestrial life – including species found nowhere else on Earth. These same features make the plateau a refuge for wildlife diversity as the climate charges.
State parks and wildlife management areas have set aside some important forestlands on the plateau, but large tracts remain unprotected from development, unsustainable timber harvesting, mining, and invasive species. In a series of grant and loan funds begun in 2004, OSI has attracted attention and resources to the conservation of the best wildlife habitat in the Southern Appalachians.
The Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund focuses on the plateau’s high-priority lands for species diversity and climate change adaptation, as identified by OSI’s Protecting Southern Appalachian Wildlife in an Era of Climate Change, State Wildlife Action Plans, and other landscape conservation plans.
Impact of the Fund
Capitalized with grants from the Lyndhurst and Benwood Foundations and Merck Family Fund, OSI’s Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund protects wildlife habitat and biodiversity in landscapes that are critical to facilitating adaptation to climate change.
As of 2018, fourteen capital grants protected more than 30,000 acres of forestland on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.
Connecting and expanding blocks of protected habitat, these projects conserved globally significant terrestrial and aquatic species and facilitated species adaptation to climate change.
Many of the projects enlarged state parks and wildlife management areas, increasing access for hiking, hunting, and other outdoor recreation.