Errol New Hampshire forest - photo: Monkmans
To date (February 2015), OSI’s board has approved nine capital grants and twelve support grants, totaling over $1.4 million. These projects illustrate how the Fund can help move land conservation forward, especially in small towns with tight budgets and limited volunteer capacity. Supporting transaction costs or a forest management plan can turn a tentative idea into an on-the-ground success. See descriptions of completed projects here and read more about several of these projects.
The Community Forest Fund supports the creation and expansion of community forests in northern New England. The Fund achieves its mission through (1) matching capital grants and loans for the purchase of land and conservation easements and (2) support grants for planning, transaction and stewardship activities for community forest projects. The Open Space Institute (OSI)administers the Fund and makes grants and loans to qualified non-profit organizations and municipalities. OSI established an advisory board, comprised of representatives from the region, which makes recommendations on implementation of the Fund to OSI’s board.
The Fund awards grants in the northern New England states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Resources will be focused to areas where community ownership is economically feasible and advances landscape conservation strategies.
The Fund supports projects that integrate community, economic and conservation goals, e.g, efforts that create and retain jobs, promote sustainable forestry, conserve land, and increase and deepen community involvement in land stewardship. More specifically, to be eligible for funding, projects must meet all of the following criteria:
The Fund will give preference to projects that also meet the following supporting criteria:
Conservation Easements must, at a minimum, include the following: enforceable standards for permanent protection of forest values (such as wildlife, wetlands, recreation, drinking water, timber); workable monitoring and enforcement provisions; process for communication between the easement holder and landowner; provisions ensuring sustainable forest management; process for community involvement in property stewardship; public access guarantees appropriate to the forest values; a stewardship or management plan process; and, baseline documentation provision.
The Fund works with municipalities, economic development organizations and land trusts. It makes loans and grants to municipalities and to nonprofit organizations that demonstrate they are working in active partnership with municipalities and relevant local community organizations.
The Fund awards matching capital grants to support the purchase of conservation easements and fee interest in land. The Fund also makes low-cost loans to bridge gaps in public or private funding. Smaller support grants (under $20,000) are provided for planning, transaction and stewardship activities directly related to community forest projects, such as: resource inventory and mapping; timber cruise; forest management plans; appraisals, legal expenses, title exams and environmental assessments. Grants are not available for fundraising expenses or stewardship endowments.
An advisory board, composed of experts from the community economic development, forestry and conservation fields, helped OSI develop the Fund and reviews individual projects against funding criteria. All grant and loan recommendations are forwarded to OSI’s board of trustees, which makes all funding decisions.
OSI launched the Fund with $1.4 million to support a limited number of exemplary projects. OSI will seek to raise additional capital, as needed, to support additional projects.
There are no grant opportunities at this time. If you would like more information on the funding cycle, please sign up here.
For questions regarding the grant program and the application process contact: