OSI recently released a retrospective chronicling the history of its Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund, a loan and re-granting initiative launched in 2007. In three years, the Fund not only helped protect 5,300 acres in Georgia and Tennessee; it put OSI on the map—literally and figuratively—as a go-to agency with the ability to catalyze dollars in a region rich in natural resources but at times lacking the public funding to realize its conservation goals.
Protecting the Best: Wildlife Habitat Conservation in Northwest Georgia illustrates how philanthropy can be effective through focus, leverage, and collaboration.
OSI's Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund, created in 2007 in part with capital contributions from the Lyndhurst and Benwood foundations, provided grants and loans to protect ecologically significant landscapes in a million-acre region in the northwest corner of Georgia, a center of biodiversity in the southern Appalachians.
Targeting projects identified on Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan, OSI has disbursed $1.7 million in grants and $408,000 in loans to land trusts and state agencies to protect 5,300 acres. Every dollar invested by the fund was matched by 12 additional dollars from land trusts and supportive landowners.
It also highlights what it takes to achieve success on the ground and how much more there is to accomplish—not just in northwest Georgia, but elsewhere in the southern Appalachians.
OSI's Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund provides a proven and replicable model, and the vision and perseverance of conservation groups—including those profiled in the Fund Summary—inspire hope that someday success will not be confined to northwest Georgia alone.