CHARLESTON, SC — The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation today unveiled a new report featuring recommendations developed by the Open Space Institute (OSI), Lyme Timber, and Delta Institute, on expanding and advancing land conservation in the South Carolina Lowcountry and the Chicago Wilderness. The findings, commissioned by the Foundation, are intended to guide innovative conservation strategies in a changing political and climate context.
The report, Expanding the Conservation Toolbox: Emerging Approaches in a Changing Climate, explores augmenting traditional conservation tools — such as easements, acquisitions, and political advocacy — with emerging and underused funding and financing strategies that will accelerate the pace of conservation. Strategies advanced in the report for the South Carolina Lowcountry include expanding local ballot measures for land protection and targeting key coastal wetlands for conservation in the face of sea level rise.
"Expanding the Conservation Toolbox provides a path forward for the next chapter of land conservation in the South Carolina Lowcountry,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s executive vice president. “We thank the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation for their dedication to preserving the natural inheritance of this unparalleled region.”
Experts from OSI, the Delta Institute, and The Lyme Timber Company captured a handful of top-tier strategies. The approaches were curated from a broad list of more than sixty recommendations gleaned from on-the-ground interviews with land conservation practitioners in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and the Chicago, Illinois regions.
Many of these strategies focus on taking conservation in new and exciting directions, such as preservation focused around watershed and “climate-resilience” — i.e., the protection of lands that will continue to harbor habitat for sensitive plants and animals, even as the climate changes.
OSI through its Resilient Landscapes Initiative has partnered with conservation organizations to assemble vast networks of these climate-resilient lands across the North- and Southeast.
The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation helps strengthen and sustain the communities of Chicago and the South Carolina Lowcountry by supporting the preservation of land, art, and historical and cultural collections in those regions.
Across South Carolina, OSI has directly protected almost 12,000 acres in the state, while giving grants and loans that have resulted in the protection of an additional 12,800 acres.