Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund
Capitalized with grants from the Lyndhurst and Benwood Foundations and Merck Family Fund, OSI’s Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund (Fund) protects wildlife habitat and biodiversity in landscapes that are critical to facilitating adaptation to climate change. The Fund is focused on protecting ecologically critical lands in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia that have been identified as high priority in OSI’s research project, Protecting Southern Appalachian Wildlife in an Era of Climate Change, as well as other wildlife habitat and landscape conservation plans such as State Wildlife Action Plans and Cumberland Voices.
The Fund, capitalized at $7.75 million, has approved ten capital grants since 2012 totaling $3.1 million, including the following three completed projects:
Bridge loans are also available through the Fund to support the purchase of priority land and conservation easements. OSI makes grants to qualified organizations through a competitive process that is guided by an advisory board, comprised of experts within the region who are knowledgeable about natural resources, conservation planning, philanthropy, land transactions and policy. Barring exceptional circumstances, grant awards must be matched by other private and/or public funds at a ratio of at least 3:1.
The Southern Cumberland Plateau contains globally significant
biological diversity presenting great conservation need and opportunity. This
region supports rich animal and plant diversity in its large forest blocks,
extensive underground cave systems, and multiple patch habitats, all of which are
threatened with high rates of loss to development, fragmentation, conversion,
and increasingly, climate change.
Map of focus area (pdf)
All applications must be submitted through our online service here.
For your information, you may download a PDF copy of the online application here.
Download the financial summary for the application here.
Prior to applying, prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Jennifer Melville, OSI’s Vice President for Conservation Grants and Loans, to clarify any questions and to confirm that the project meets initial eligibility requirements, including the threshold criterion of contributing to the conservation of identified large forest blocks.
The deadline for applications is 5:00 pm (Eastern) on April 11, 2016.
To be notified about future grant rounds please sign up here.
To be eligible for funding, a project must meet all of the following threshold criteria:
Grant funds may be used to acquire permanent conservation easements and fee interests in land, as well as to defray associated expenses, including out-of-pocket transaction-related costs.
Stewardship funding will be granted only in exceptional circumstances in which a convincing case is made that the funding is necessary to enable the transaction, and is limited to no more than $20,000.
The initiative may also provide short-term low-interest loans to bridge gaps of up to two years in permanent public or private funding.
Grants may not be used to pay interest on loans, staff time, mileage, travel expenses and general overhead.
Projects which close before the application deadline are not eligible for funding.
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.
Stewardship of Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund grant projects must be consistent with the goals of the Fund: maintaining the ability of wildlife to adapt to climate change and conserving native biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Prior to submitting a grant proposal, applicants should review OSI’s standards for fee land stewardship and for conservation easement (CE) terms (download here).
A fundamental goal of the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund is to encourage leveraging of additional conservation funding sources. Every dollar granted from the fund must typically be matched by three (3) other dollars from other sources. A lower leverage ratio will be considered only in exceptional circumstances.
The following qualify as match for a Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund grant:
To be eligible as match, property must 1) be adjacent or proximate to the subject property, 2) meet the Fund’s criteria, 3) generally be part of the same project area as the subject property, preferably as defined by a larger conservation plan, 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, matrix forest block, natural community, and/or State Wildlife Action Plan priority area.
The following do not qualify as matching funds:
Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund Inquiries
General Information & Application
212-290-8200 x 311