OSI partners with conservation organizations in the Southeast to assemble networks of protected lands to preserve plant and animal diversity in a changing climate. The Fund supports projects in three regions where an array of wild lands harbor rich biodiversity as well as the geological and landform complexity that allows species to adapt.
The Fund provides capital grants and loans to qualified non-profits for the
acquisition of land or conservation easements on climate-resilient lands,
capitalized with a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Through an
in-depth review process, OSI selected three focus areas: the Southern
Cumberlands in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee; the Southern Blue Ridge in North
Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee; and the Greater Pee Dee River in South
Carolina and North Carolina.
To determine eligibility and assess a project’s resiliency attributes, applicants will use the newest data and produce maps with a new TNC Mapping Tool. The Definitions and Data Sets Map Guide defines and explains resiliency concepts, details map requirements, and provides examples. Projects must meet all of the following Threshold Criteria:
- Lie within an OSI Resilient Focus Area
- Rank above average for Landscape Resilience
- Achieve permanent protection of high resilience habitat through fee purchase of land and/or a conservation easement
- Meet or exceed OSI Conservation Easement and/or Stewardship Standards
- Be spearheaded by an organization with the capacity and financial ability to execute the transaction and ensure long-term stewardship and management of the property consistent with the Fund’s objectives
- Be completed within 18 months of receiving notification of OSI’s grant award
Projects that meet the Threshold Criteria will be evaluated based on the:
- Extent of the property that ranks above average for Resilience
- Extent and type of Underrepresented Geophysical Settings found on the property
- Extent of the property that ranks above average for Landscape Diversity
- Extent, status and condition of plant and animal species and natural communities found on the property
- The project’s role in helping to ensure the long-term viability of plant and animal species, either alone or in conjunction with existing protected areas
- Threat and/or particular conservation opportunity presented
- Evidence of a stewardship plan for the long-term conservation of the property consistent with the Fund’s objectives
- Ability to meet OSI’s Match Requirements
- Applicant’s interest in and ability to advance the use of Resilience science
- Ability of the project to illustrate the importance of resilient landscape conservation and/or to catalyze other projects that will protect resilient habitat
- Evidence that the land trust receiving funding from and/or holding property funded through a grant from the Fund is accredited by the Land Trust Commission or has a reasonable plan and time frame for attaining accreditation that has been adopted by the land trust’s board.
Eligible Uses of Funds
Grants may be used to acquire permanent conservation easements and fee interest in land. In exceptional cases, grants may be applied to cover transactional costs, including cost of appraisals, surveys, title, and environmental assessments. The Fund may also provide short-term low-interest loans for projects that require bridge financing and that meet the grant criteria. Grant funds cannot be used for endowments, stewardship costs, baseline documentation reports, staff time, buildings or other non-capital project expenses.
OSI staff and the Fund’s Advisory Committee review applications against the Fund’s criteria and goals. Once OSI has approved a grant, we will provide the grantee with a checklist of items required for OSI to prepare a grant agreement. When all required information and documents are received, OSI will forward a grant agreement to the grantee. If applicable, the grantee must provide documents pertaining to each project phase and match parcel. OSI will release funds at the time the transaction closes. Projects must close within 18 months of OSI’s grant approval.
Conservation Easement and Stewardship Standards
Conservation easements and stewardship of Resilient Landscape Fund grant projects must be consistent with the goals of the Fund: maintaining the land’s resilience to climate change and conserving native biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Prior to submitting a grant proposal, applicants should review OSI’s Conservation Easement and Stewardship Standards.
Grant Amount and Matching Requirement
Although there is no minimum or maximum grant size, awards are typically between $100,000 and $400,000.
OSI will give strong preference to projects with a 5:1 or greater financial match. OSI will fund projects with less than 5:1 match only in exceptional circumstances. Prior to grant distribution, grantees must provide a detailed accounting of all matching sources.
The following qualify as matching funds:
- Public funds (federal, state and local) and private funds from individuals and foundations used for the acquisition of fee interest or a conservation easement on the subject property or on eligible match properties.
- The value of a donated conservation easement or bargain sale on the subject property.
- The value of eligible match properties (see below).
- Transaction and other acquisition costs, including appraisals, surveys, environmental assessments, title exams and insurance, recording fees, transfer and real estate taxes, property carrying costs and fees for outside counsel.
Match Property Eligibility
To be eligible as match, property must 1) be adjacent or proximate to the subject property, 2) meet the Fund’s criteria, 3) be part of a larger plan that includes conservation of the match and subject properties, and 4) close prior to the closing of the subject property but not more than one year before date of application. In addition, to determine eligibility of match parcels OSI will consider whether the match and the subject properties lie in the same watershed, geophysical setting, matrix forest block, natural community and/or State Wildlife Action Plan priority area.
The following do not qualify as matching funds:
- Ecological or land restoration dollars
- Stewardship endowments and land management expenses Staff time, travel or expenses