Open Space Institute

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Open Space Institute (OSI) (not to confuse with the facilitator network of open conversation space) is a conservation organization and think tank that seeks to preserve scenic, natural and historic landscapes for public enjoyment, conserve habitats while sustaining community character, and help protect the environment. OSI uses policy initiatives and ground-level activism to help accomplish its goals.


Open Space Institute, established in 1964, achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, regional loan programs, creative partnerships, fiscal sponsorship, and analytical research. It seeks to do this by making land acquisition, establishing conservation easements and by making loans to, and creative partnerships with, other organizations. It is active across the country, including the states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and New Jersey.

According to its website it has protected more than 90,000 acres (360 km2) in New York State and has assisted in protecting over 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km2) of forest in New England through its Northern Forest Protection Fund.


OSI’s New York Land Protection Program purchases land and easements in New York State, OSI's home and historic base of operations, where it has protected 100,000 acres (400 km2) of land. OSI focuses on protecting scenic, historic, recreational and agricultural landscapes in the greater Hudson River Valley region, from the Palisades to the Adirondacks High Peaks. Working with state and local governments, land trusts of all sizes, and individual landowners, OSI has created and expanded more than 40 parks and preserves, protected family farms, helped develop appropriate land use policies, and increased public funding for conservation.

Through the Conservation Finance Program, OSI seeks to accelerate the rate and effectiveness of conservation by providing grants and low-cost bridge loans for land transactions in selected landscapes in the eastern United States. The program works primarily with small to mid-sized land trusts to protect diverse landscapes that include parks and preserves as well as working farms and forests. Currently the CFP is focused on the Northern Forest, the Hudson River Valley of New York State, New Jersey, western Massachusetts, and the Southern Appalachians. Since its inception in 2000, the CFP has made 51 loans and grants totaling more than $41 million, protecting 1,700,000 acres (6,900 km2).

The Conservation Institute, launched in 2006, produces and distributes information addressing pressing land conservation issues, conducting original research as well as synthesizing studies by other groups. The Conservation Institute also serves as OSI's internal research and development center, guiding strategic planning in its land acquisition and loan programs. Externally, the Conservation Institute informs conservation practitioners and the general public, and shapes public policies at the state, county and local levels.

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