Waccamaw River near Conway, SC
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Year-in-Review 2019: Addressing Climate Change & Protecting Habitat

Photo Credit: Mac Stone

As the climate continues to change, land conservation plays an essential role for society, both in terms of carbon capture in trees and soil, and as a natural way to mitigate effects of more severe storms and rising waters.

Land conservation and forest protection are a critical part of the natural solution. OSI continues to contribute by harnessing the role of forests to filter the air. OSI-protected lands removed three metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere this year – an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 2.3 million cars.

To curb the effects of increasingly severe storms, OSI experts helped communities identify and protect specific properties that better mitigate drought, flooding, and other climate impacts. For instance, in South Carolina, where the low-lying community of Conway has been pummeled by consecutive, record-setting hurricanes, OSI protected a critical buffer property; and thanks to conservation work supported by OSI, nearly 70,000 residents in the County of Charleston qualified for a 30-percent savings on their flood insurance rates. Further down the coast in Georgia, OSI protected approximately 16,000 acres to defend local communities and protect habitat from sea level rise.

Protecting “climate-resilient” properties, which will remain a haven for plants and animals even as the climate changes, is yet another of OSI’s efforts. By targeting climate-resilient lands, OSI with the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation partnered to expand one of South Carolina’s most popular parks, Jones Gap, by more than a quarter of its original extent, and helped create the new Bobs Creek Wilderness Area in North Carolina.

A property protected by OSI in South Carolina afforded more protection for the Carolina heel-splitter mussel, of which only about 150 still exist.
A property protected by OSI in South Carolina afforded more protection for the Carolina heel-splitter mussel, of which only about 150 still exist.
Photo Credit: USFWS

With OSI support, other land trusts are mobilizing to deploy climate resilience-based protection. OSI grants and assistance have helped Vermont Land Trust to create a state plan for climate change; Maine Heritage Coastal Trust to develop a coastal master planning class; and are helping Northwest Arkansas Land Trust to plan for biodiversity and resilience.

Finally, as climate change and development threaten habitat, OSI continues to champion land protection for threatened and endangered species. In 2019, grant support from OSI ensured the protection of more than 2,400 acres in the Adirondacks for the Eastern Pearlshell freshwater mussel and the Peregrine Falcon; and, a property protected by OSI in South Carolina afforded more protection for the Carolina heel-splitter mussel, of which only about 150 still exist.

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Year-in-Review 2019: Creating Strong Communities

As 2019 draws to a close, OSI is looking back at our conservation achievements this year. By strategically protecting land that benefits communities, OSI is helping to safeguard resources for future generations.