Brett Forest Waterbrook 022

Planning Grants Empower Land Trusts & Communities to Harness Land Protection for Climate Change

NEW YORK, NY (March 8, 2022)--As the need to address climate change grows ever more pressing, communities across the nation are rallying behind land protection as a tool for adaptation and mitigation. Now, an initiative of the Open Space Institute (OSI) and the Land Trust Alliance (the Alliance) is empowering land trusts and other nonprofits to harness the protection and management of forests and working lands to advance climate solutions.

The grants made in the 2021 round of the Land and Climate Grant Program total nearly $400,000, offering funding and technical assistance to embed climate science into conservation plans, which in turn guide land protection and stewardship. The funding reinforces the critical role that forests and working lands must play in capturing and storing carbon, and protecting communities from climate threats such as flooding and extreme heat.

Below are three of the projects that received planning grants in 2021. More information about the program is available here. OSI and the Alliance plan to announce a new slate of grants and technical support awards in the summer of 2022.

Creating a State-Wide Planning Tool: The Conservation Trust for North Carolina

Ches Len credit Sean Quinn
OSI's grant to Natural Lands is helping the land trust manage its ChesLen Preserve for carbon storage and other benefits.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Natural Lands/Sean Quinn

Many land trusts are finding that climate change is already impacting their properties and operations. For the Pennsylvania-based land trust Natural Lands, increased flooding has resulted in flooded trails, damaged stream crossings, and downed trees at several of its preserves across the greater Philadelphia region, impacting recreation and posing a threat to water quality. Less visible, but no less worrying, are the ways the changing climate may threaten biodiversity and shift species range over the long term or impact the future health of forests.

Now, a grant from OSI is helping the organization bring climate considerations into the management plans for its 1,282-acre Bear Creek Preserve in Luzerne County and its 3,565-acre ChesLen Preserve in Chester County, both located within the Delaware River Watershed. Specifically, the funding will support habitat resilience, carbon storage and sequestration, and the reinforcement of trails and other recreational assets.

Scott Wendle, Vice President of Preserve Stewardship at Natural Lands, said of the grant: “Adapting to the impacts of climate change and using our preserves to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions is critical to the long-term health and sustainability of the natural resources we steward and the wider region. This grant will help us identify implementable mitigation and adaptation actions that we can apply not only to these two preserves, but also to the rest of our preserve system — which totals over 23,000 acres.”

Deploying Climate-Smart Forestry: Vermont Woodlands Association

With 80 percent of Vermont’s forestland in private ownership, the land management decisions made by thousands of individuals and families have an outsized role to play in shaping how the state’s forests contribute to climate change solutions. Now, with support from OSI, Vermont Woodlands Association is working with conservation partners, consulting foresters, and other experts across the state to get information about climate-adaptive forestry into the hands of forest landowners.

What You Can Do

Donate to support OSI’s work

Become a part of our mission to safeguard at-risk places through your tax-deductible gift.


Subscribe to our newsletter

We get in touch once a month with our most important news, stories, and updates.