Climate Change and Land Trusts

Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

OSI Addresses Climate and the Landscape

Lawn Property, Shawangunks, Brett Cole

With more than 40 years of experience, OSI is committed to addressing the effects of climate change through strategic land conservation. Safeguarding large landscapes has always been a hedge against climate change. By preventing or redirecting large-scale development, land conservation reduces greenhouse-gas pollution, and by sustaining intact forests, it offsets emissions by sequestering carbon. Moreover, purchasing land secures habitat for plants and animals and ensures an array of ecosystem services, including clean water, for every living thing.

Recent science has developed ways to identify resilient landscapes, natural strongholds whose unchanging physical characteristics will help ensure that human and natural communities endure as the world warms. Diverse and unfragmented, these places are best able to recover from disturbance, ensuring biodiversity for years to come. Some 80% of the lands OSI has protected in New York alone are climate resilient, including places in the Hudson Highlands, Shawangunks and Catskill Mountains. These landscapes not only protect wildlife, but also defend against flood, drought and other risks to human communities.

That is why, in 2013, OSI launched our $12 million Resilient Landscapes Initiative. Through this effort, we work with other land trusts to protect resilient sites, and translate and promote the use of this critical science across the eastern United States.

In 2014, President Obama commended the Resilient Landscapes Initiative for investing in natural infrastructure in the face of climate change. OSI’s targeted funding for climate action is on track to protect 25,000 acres of resilient habitat in 12 states over the next two years. These tracts will provide a stronghold for plants and animals to adapt even as the climate changes. Our leadership in translating science for land-trust planning has resulted in the integration of climate science into the conservation plans of other leading land trusts. As we work to de-mystify the application of climate science to land protection, we are helping to set an agenda to pinpoint and protect critical resilient lands.

Land conservation is a critical piece of the climate-action puzzle, and OSI will continue to rise to the climate challenge through its ongoing protection of land in New York State and along the East Coast.  

OSI’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Jane’s Trust, the North Atlantic Landscape Cooperative and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program/Land Trust Alliance.

Grant Funds

dividerNortheast Resilient Landscapes Map #8

Northeast Resilient Landscapes Fund

The Fund provides capital grants and loans to land protection projects within selected regions of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Central Appalachians.

Map SE RLI, Southeast Resilience Focus Areas

Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund

The Fund provides capital grants and loans to land protection projects within selected regions of the Southeastern United States.


Bear Paw Resilient Map CatalystCatalyst Grants

OSI's Catalyst Program furthers the practical application of climate science and water quality science to land protection through grants for conservation planning and applied research.


What You Can Do

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