NEW YORK, NY (Feb. 19, 2021)—Seeking to accelerate land conservation in the eastern U.S. to counter climate change and its impacts, the Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the launch of its $18 million Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund (ALPF), which will focus, in part, on protecting key forested sections of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. This first-of-its-kind fund is aimed specifically at protecting some of the nation’s most biologically rich and climate-resilient landscapes. The initiative aligns with the Biden administration’s recently announced plan to conserve 30 percent of U.S. land and waters by the year 2030 to leverage natural climate solutions, protect biodiversity, and slow extinction rates.
Harnessing the carbon-capturing role of forests to combat climate change, the ALPF seeks to conserve at least 10,000 acres in key portions of the three New England states. The funding is part of the ALPF’s larger effort to conserve 50,000 acres along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, which contain the world’s largest broadleaf forest, are responsible for storing a majority of U.S. forest carbon, and provide essential climate refuge for plants and animals.
“Now more than ever, our future depends on forests. By putting climate change front and center, the Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund will help protect the land that matters most as we take on the largest environmental challenge of our time,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of OSI. “While a changing climate can create overwhelming uncertainty, the conservation of forests can go a long way toward helping wildlife and people adapt, while reducing emissions through carbon storage and sequestration.”
“To address climate change, we need to keep carbon in our forests and improve how we manage lands to offset harmful emissions,” said Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests and an advisor to the ALPF. “Living in northern New England and having worked here, I know how important the forests of this region are. The Fund can play an important role in protecting our woodlands and demonstrating and documenting the value of land conservation as a critical and necessary response to climate change.”
To achieve critical, climate-related conservation goals, OSI is providing grants and loans for the acquisition of land and conservation easements that will leverage an additional $66 million in matching public and private funds. The ALPF also advances efforts by states, local communities, Native American tribes, and land trusts, to align their conservation goals around climate priorities. The ALPF will ease funding requirements for organizations that identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led that are at heightened risk of being negatively impacted by the climate crisis.
The Northern Appalachians focus area is one of three specific regions that are priorities for conservation by the ALPF, based on their intact habitat; ability to serve as corridors for migrating wildlife; contiguous forests; and ability to protect and increase carbon storage in vast forest resources that also provide clean water and recreational opportunities for millions of people. In addition to the Northern Appalachians, the other two focus areas are Cradle of Southern Appalachia in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama and Middle Atlantic in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.