OSI announces new fund for Southern Cumberland Plateau

New York, NY – October 25, 2012 – The Open Space Institute is pleased to announce the launch of the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund, which will award grants and loans to conservation projects that protect wildlife habitat and biodiversity in landscapes that facilitate adaptation to changes in climate and other environmental factors. 

OSI will make loans and grants to qualified organizations for land acquisition through a competitive process that is guided by an advisory board comprised of experts with knowledge of natural resources and philanthropy, as well as conservation planning, transactions and policy. The Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund has been capitalized with funds from the Lyndhurst Foundation, Benwood Foundation, Merck Family Fund and OSI, totaling $6.75 million. 

This first round of funding will focus on permanently protecting large forest blocks in the Southern Cumberland Plateau in portions of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia that have been identified as a high priority in recognized wildlife habitat and landscape conservation plans, including but not limited to state wildlife action plans and OSI’s recent research project, Protecting Southern Appalachian Wildlife in an Era of Climate Change. 

As a conservation lender, regranter and researcher, OSI has been active over the past decade helping to conserve land in the Southeast. 

The Southern Cumberland Plateau contains globally significant biological diversity presenting great conservation need and opportunity. These areas contain large forest blocks and extensive underground cave systems supporting rich animal and plant diversity. Both are threatened with high rates of habitat loss due to development, fragmentation, conversion and, increasingly, climate change.

The fund will support efforts to conserve land that contains or directly impacts priority habitat by investing in projects that:

  • Promote regional-scale conservation of habitat and biodiversity;
  • Enhance connectivity among conserved lands and waters to facilitate the movement and adaptation of species and ecological processes to climate change;
  • Protect lands that are predicted to provide critical habitat for, and enable adaptation by, species vulnerable to climate change;
  • Catalyze other land conservation projects;
  • Increase support for regional-scale conservation among key decision makers and the general public; and
  • Direct and leverage funding

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