CHATTANOOGA, TN (Feb. 18, 2021)—Seeking to accelerate land conservation along the Appalachian Mountains 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 sections of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. The ALPF, initially capitalized with $5.25 million in the tristate area, will provide grants to the local region for the acquisition of land and conservation easements to protect wildlife habitat and store carbon. Funded projects are also expected to improve recreational access and safeguard clean air and water.
Harnessing the critical role of forests to combat climate change, the ALPF aims to conserve at least 30,000 acres in the tristate area known locally as the Cradle of Southern Appalachia, a seven-million-acre region that has long been a priority for conservation. The ALPF will be guided by a conservation blueprint developed by Thrive Regional Partnership’s Natural Treasures Alliance, a regional collaboration of conservation groups, private businesses, and citizens.
The Cradle of Southern Appalachia is one of three focus areas of the ALPF, which aims to conserve 50,000 acres along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains — home of the world’s largest broadleaf forest is responsible for a majority of US forest carbon sequestration, and serves as an essential climate refuge for plants and animals. The other identified target areas of the ALPF are located in the Middle-Atlantic and Northern Appalachians. Altogether, the ALPF seeks to distribute $18 million across the three focus areas, of which $12.5 million has been raised to date.
“The forests of the Southern Appalachians are not only critical for their natural and local heritage, they also protect the land that matters most as we take on the largest environmental challenge of our time — a changing climate,” said Kim Elliman, OSI president and CEO.
"On behalf of Thrive Regional Partnership, we would like to thank the thousands of citizens who took the time over the past several years to convey the importance of protecting natural treasures as a key priority for this region," said Daniel Carter, chair of Thrive Regional Partnership’s Natural Treasures Alliance. "This funding announcement is a direct result of what happens when citizens and local leaders come together to thoughtfully plan for our future."