click here to download a pdf map
Conservation in a Changing
We are in the midst of global climate change. The United States is experiencing higher than average annual temperatures, longer growing seasons, and shorter periods with frozen soils and lakes, as well as more extreme precipitation and related flooding. These rapidly changing and unpredictable conditions may unravel what has taken decades to conserve, degrading habitats so that they no longer support a diversity of plants and animals.
This risk necessitates a new approach to land conservation – an approach that targets conservation efforts to places most likely to be resilient in the face of the changing climate. Addressing that challenge, the Open Space Institute’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative is working with land trusts and public agencies from Maine to West Virginia to integrate climate change considerations into conservation priorities and to identify and protect resilient landscapes.
A New Approach –
Identifying Resilient Places
The land conservation community can play a defining role in
protecting places where natural communities can thrive despite a warming
planet. A new body of science has the potential to help land trusts make sense
of the climate change puzzle. OSI has launched the Resilient Landscapes Initiative to
facilitate the understanding, use and application of this science to climate
This science helps decision-makers ensure that the places we are conserving
today will support a diversity of plants and animals tomorrow, within the
context of climate change. This approach, authored by scientists at The Nature Conservancy (TNC report) and
based on more than a decade of research, has found that sustaining species
diversity across the landscape is a function of three key elements: the
complexity of landforms above ground, the connectivity of natural systems and
the diversity of geology types. At the heart of this science is that while we
cannot predict exactly how species and habitats will respond to climate change,
we can identify places that provide the greatest climatic options for the
greatest number of species.
Capital and Catalyst Grants
Using this new science, with a $6 million lead grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, OSI has launched the Resilient Landscapes Initiative to engage land trusts and public agencies across the eastern United States to respond to climate change. The Initiative seeks to increase conservation of lands that can facilitate wildlife adaptation to climate change, facilitate access to and use of TNC resiliency science, and enhance land trust capacity focused on critical climate priorities. OSI will achieve its goals through selected capital grants and a targeted outreach and education program.
Through the Initiative, OSI
is distributing $5.5 million in capital grants within four targeted areas. OSI
selected these four Resilient Landscapes that are all strongly positioned to
facilitate wildlife adaptation to climate change. Click on the highlighted
region to download a pdf fact sheet:
Potomac Headwaters in West Virginia and Virginia,
Highlands and Kittatinny Ridge in New Jersey and Pennyslvania, Middle Connecticut River in Vermont and Massachusetts, and Southern New Hampshire and Maine Forests
Links go to a PDF fact sheet for each focus area, check your computers download folder.
To select these Landscapes, from Maine to West Virginia, OSI
used a two-step screening process – a science filter and a feasibility filter.
In the science-based phase of work, OSI determined ‘best bets’ for permanent
conservation in the face of climate change and worked with an expert group of advisors –
including ecologists from leading academic institutions, NatureServe, the North
Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative and the Wildlife Conservation
Society - to select the final Resilient Landscapes. The Landscape
Selection Process paper provides information on how these areas were chosen.
In the feasibility phase, OSI screened these science-based sites to identify
places where there was capacity to complete transactions, manageable threats
and potential matching public and private funds. We surveyed land trusts and
agencies, funding sources and large-scale threats to determine where capital
investments have the potential to have significant impact.
OSI awards matching grants to projects within these Resilient Landscapes that
permanently protect habitat through the acquisition of land or conservation easements.
OSI staff and the Fund’s Advisory Committee reviews applications, solicited through a competitive process, against the
resiliency data and other ecological and transactional criteria and makes
recommendations to OSI’s conservation capital committee.
Grant applications will accepted from January 16, 2014 through March 18, 2014 at 5pm. The following grant round will be announced in 6-9 months. To be notified and learn more
about the grant fund, please click here.
OSI supports the capacity of land trusts and public agencies to
respond to climate change through selected Catalyst Grants. These grants help build
the knowledge base of key audiences and advance the practical application of resiliency science. To enhance these grants, OSI is also developing guidance documents
that inform conservation planning and evaluation of resiliency transactions. These
efforts are central to understanding the challenges and opportunities for
applying resiliency science.
Projects funded by Catalyst Grants aim to provide practical responses
and tangible case studies to further understanding of the following questions:
- How can resiliency science be applied to
conservation planning to advance protection of the most resilient lands?
- How could resiliency science inform land
management, stewardship and land use
planning to ensure long term protection in the face of climate change?
- How could the resiliency
science be integrated with other climate analyses to provide the most robust
approach to climate change?
Catalyst Grants and range in size from $7,500 to $25,000. OSI anticipates initiating the next round of Catalyst Grants in May 2014. Read more about the first round of Catalyst Grants. For further information or to discuss your project, contact Abby Weinberg.
Access to the Resiliency Data
OSI ‘s Definitions and Data Guide defines and
explains resiliency concepts and provides guidance for capital grant applicants.
companion resiliency map package emphasizes the components of resiliency that
are core to OSI’s Resiliency Initiative and that are priorities in our Capital
and Catalyst Grants. The rationale for these priorities is described in our Landscape
Selection Process paper.
grant applicants should review the Guide prior to applying. The Guide defines
key resiliency concepts, describes OSI’s resiliency map package, and provides
examples of maps required for OSI’s capital grant program.
TNC report and associated data from which OSI’s data is derived is available
Capital Grant Fund
Outreach and Catalyst Grants
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