NEW YORK, NY (Feb. 18, 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). 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’s goal is to conserve 50,000 acres along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, which contain the world’s largest broadleaf forest, are responsible for a majority of US forest carbon sequestration, and provide essential climate refuge for plants and animals. OSI has initially identified three specific regions that are priorities for conservation based on their intact habitat and ability to serve as corridors for migrating wildlife, contiguous forests, and to protect and increase carbon storage in vast forest resources that also provide clean water and recreational opportunities for millions of people. The three large-scale forested target areas, ranging in size from three to seven million acres, are: (1) the Cradle of Southern Appalachia, (2) the Middle Atlantic, and (3) the Northern Appalachians.
To date, OSI has secured a $6 million grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and $6 million from six other regional foundations toward its $18 million goal. Additional funding will allow for further investment in the three target areas and/or the geographic expansion of the program.