The Southeast is the fastest growing region in the United States and hosts the greatest diversity of plants and animals east of the Rocky Mountains. From spruce-fir forests on the highest mountains (Mt. Mitchell, 6683 ft.), to the coastal plain where efforts are underway to restore the once extensive longleaf pine forest, the Southeast is home to wildlife such as black bear, red cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoises, alligators, wood storks, and the world’s richest variety of salamanders. The Southeast’s water resources also harbor an incredible array of fish and water-cleaning mussels, as well as unique animals like large hellbender salamanders and the manatee.
The Cumberland Plateau and Southern Blue Ridge regions of the Southern Appalachians contain large blocks of relatively intact forest, but these regions remain threatened by residential development and in some places by poor forestry practices and the siting of extractive industries in sensitive ecological areas. While the Ridge and Valley, Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions are more fragmented by development, they contain many important natural areas worthy of protection and improved land management.
Land protection in the Southeast is an important part of safeguarding landscapes for the benefit of plants, animals, and their habitats; for sustaining clean water and air in ways that are cost efficient and sustain human life; for recreational activities; and for maintaining the natural resource sectors of the economy. The Open Space Institute offers a suite of grant and loan programs, each designed to conserve the very best of the region’s wildlife habitat and working landscapes.
Launched in August 2014, with a grant
from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Southeast Resilient Landscapes
Fund provides capital grants and loans to land protection projects
within selected regions of the southeast.
The Southern Cumberland Plateau contains globally significant biological diversity presenting great conservation need and opportunity.
OSI created The Southern Appalachian Land Protection Fund in 2005 to help conserve threatened landscapes in the region.
Eastern North Carolina is an ecologically rich landscape with diverse and productive working forests. It is also the site of one of the most remarkable changes in land ownership in recent history. Read OSI's 2012 report.