Systematic, science-based conservation planning is a hallmark of the Conservancy. For biodiversity to thrive, habitats need to be protected, enhanced, or restored not just in the still wild places on the planet but also where people live and make their livelihoods. 

Multi-disciplinary planning can help elucidate where the highest priority places are and what needs to happen there – and inform tradeoffs between conservation and other societal values.

Science in Action

Terrestrial | Planning | Science

Connectivity Roadmap

Can we identify areas where nature will need to migrate in response to climate change?

Marine | Planning | Science

Saving Tomorrow’s Coast

Can California protect its iconic coastline as sea levels rise?

2021 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

A Structured Approach for Kelp Restoration and Management Decisions

Mary G. Gleason, Jennifer E. Caselle, Walter N. Heady, Vienna R. Saccomanno, Julie Zimmerman, Tristin Anoush McHugh, Norah Eddy

Global kelp forests are biodiverse and productive nearshore ecosystems that provide a wide range of ecosystem services, but they are at risk from both local stressors and global drivers of kelp loss. A structured decision making (SDM) framework can help guide kelp management and restoration…


2021 | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Combining Occurrence and Habitat Suitability Data Improve Conservation Guidance for the Giant Kangaroo Rat

Alyssa E. Semerdjian, H. Scott Butterfield, Robert Stafford, Michael F. Westphal, William T. Bean

This paper in the Journal of Wildlife Management combines nearly 20 years of remote sensing, field/trapping, and modeling data to develop a new approach to the identification and prioritization of conservation land for the giant kangaroo rat. As a keystone species in the San Joaquin…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Beyond Protection: Fisheries Co-Benefits of No-Take Marine Reserves

Jono R Wilson, Darcy Bradley, Kristina Phipps, Mary G Gleason

Overfishing threatens the health and resilience of the ocean. In response, the global conservation community has set ambitious targets for protecting biodiversity inside no-take marine reserves. Yet fully protected marine reserves currently comprise only a small fraction of the ocean. In this review, the authors…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Opportunities for Fishery Partnerships to Advance Climate-Ready Fisheries Science and Management

Serena Lomonico, Mary G Gleason, Jono R Wilson, Darcy Bradley, Kate Kauer, Richard J Bell, Thomas Dempsey

Climate change poses unprecedented challenges to the sustainable management of wild capture fisheries. Management systems that improve the flow of information so that actionable steps can be taken are critical to ensuring our ocean is resilient and healthy. In this body of work, the authors…


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Data

Natural Communities Commonly Associated with Groundwater Version 2.0 (NCCAG 2.0)

Kirk Klausmeyer, Jeanette Howard, Melissa Rohde, Charlotte Stanley

The first step to sustainably manage groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) is to identify where they are. The Nature Conservancy developed a statewide spatial database that provides locations of seeps and springs, wetlands, and vegetation likely to depend on groundwater. This database (version 2.0) is an…


2021 | Freshwater | Planning | Maps & Webmaps

ICONS: Interconnected Surface Water in the Central Valley

Charlotte Stanley, Kirk Klausmeyer

This dataset categorizes the rivers and streams in the Central Valley on the likelihood that they are interconnected surface water (ISW) -- surface water hydraulically connected to groundwater. The dataset includes information on the average, maximum, and minimum depth to groundwater, using groundwater elevation…


2021 | Freshwater | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Managing Groundwater to Ensure Ecosystem Function

Laurel Saito, Bill Christian, Jennifer Diffley, Holly Richter, Melissa M. Rohde, Scott A. Morrison

In this paper, we describe minimum provisions for planning, managing, and monitoring groundwater in a manner that collectively can lower the risk of harm to groundwater-dependent ecosystems and species, as well as providing sustainable groundwater resources for communities. The paper has a special emphasis on…


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Rewilding Agricultural Landscapes: A California Study in Rebalancing the Needs of People and Nature

H. Scott Butterfield, T. Rodd Kelsey, and Abigail K. Hart, Editors

As the world population grows, so does the demand for food, putting unprecedented pressure on agricultural lands. At the same time, climate change, soil degradation, and water scarcity mean that productivity of many of these lands is deteriorating. In many desert dryland regions, drinking wells…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

Beyond the boundaries: How regulation-centered marine protected area information improves ocean protection assessments

Jennifer Sletten, Mimi D’Iorio, Mary G. Gleason, Alex Driedger, Timoth´e Vincent, Claire Colegrove, Dawn Wright, Virgil Zetterlind

Understanding the complex seascape of regulations that apply across U.S. ocean waters is critical for effective marine resource management. This study found that cumulative restrictions from overlapping fisheries regulations often provide stronger levels of protection than traditional marine protected areas (MPAs). About 85% of U.S. waters are…


2020 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Nature-Based Climate Solutions: A Roadmap to Accelerate Action in California

Sydney J. Chamberlin, Michelle Passero, Ashley Conrad-Saydah, Tanushree Biswas, Charlotte K. Stanley

California’s natural and working lands – its forests, grasslands, wetlands, farmlands, rangeland, and urban green spaces – provide Californians with numerous environmental, social, and economic benefits, including greenhouse gas reductions (e.g., carbon sequestration). However, extreme heat events, droughts, floods, wildfires, development, and other anthropogenic impacts…


2020 | Freshwater | Planning | Technology | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Base of fresh water, groundwater salinity and well distribution across California

Mary Kang, Debra Perrone, Ziming Wang, Scott Jasechko, Melissa M. Rohde

To ensure that California’s groundwater is sustainably managed in the future and over the long-term, current state definitions of what constitutes groundwater may need to be revised, according to this research published in PNAS. A research collaboration between McGill University, University of California Santa…


2020 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Shaping land use change and ecosystem restoration in a water-stressed agricultural landscape to achieve multiple benefits

Benjamin P. Bryant, T R. Kelsey, Adrian L. Vogl, Stacey A. Wolny, Duncan J. MacEwan, Paul C. Selmants, Tanushree Biswas, H S. Butterfield

Irrigated agriculture has grown rapidly over the last 50 years, helping food production keep pace with population growth, but also leading to significant habitat and biodiversity loss globally. Now, in some regions, land degradation and overtaxed water resources mean historical production levels may need to…


2020 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Santa Ana Mountains to eastern Peninsular Range Conservation Connectivity Infrastructure Planning Project for Interstate 15 and Closely Associated Roadways

Dr. Winston Vickers, Karen C. Drayer, Trish Smith, Brian Cohen

Highways across the greater San Diego region in southern California are major barriers and causes of mortality for mountain lions and are contributing to the species’ genetic restriction and threat of extirpation. Due to their large territories, mountain lions must regularly cross highways in this…


2020 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Roadmap to Restoration

Rodd Kelsey, Scott Butterfield, Abigail Hart, Ruthie Redmond, Hope Bigda-Peyton

This Policy Brief summarizes the results of a study on the potential for strategic habitat restoration in the San Joaquin Valley of California as an important part of reducing overall water demand to achieve groundwater sustainability under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). It also provides policy…


2020 | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve Rangeland Management Plan

Butterfield, H.S., M. Katkowski, J. Cota, O. Sage, C. Sage, K. Easterday, D. Zeleke, L. Riege, S. Gennet, K. Lin, B. Leahy, M. Bell, M. Reynolds

Cattle grazing is the dominant land management tool TNC has to manage biodiversity and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire at the TNC's Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. This Rangeland Management Plan, intended to guide rangeland management through 2025, details the adaptive management approach TNC…


2020 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve Integrated Resources Management Plan

Butterfield, H.S., M. Reynolds , M.G. Gleason, M. Merrifield, B.S. Cohen, W.N. Heady, D. Cameron, T. Rick, E. Inlander, M. Katkowski, L. Riege, J. Knapp, S. Gennet, G. Gorga, K. Lin, K. Easterday, B. Leahy, M. Bell

This Plan frames the biological and cultural significance and provides the short- and long-term goals, objectives, and priority actions for the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve.


2019 | Freshwater | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Dynamic multibenefit solutions for global water challenges

Melissa M. Rohde, Mark Reynolds, Jeanette Howard

In this article, the authors provide an example of how dynamic multi-benefit solutions used to provide “pop-up” wetland habitat for migratory birds also replenishing depleted aquifers to create environmental and water supply benefits and broadens it to the global scale. Additionally, this article outlines six…


2019 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Green Light Study: Economic and Conservation Benefits of Low-Impact Solar Siting in California

Stephanie Dashiell, Mark Buckley, Dustin Mulvaney

In an effort to address climate change, California enacted a clean energy energy standard that is driving a market for significant amounts of renewable energy. To explore the economic benefits of developing utility-scale solar energy on low biodiversity value land, the authors conducted an analysis…


2019 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Effects of 21st‐century climate, land use, and disturbances on ecosystem carbon balance in California

Benjamin M. Sleeter, David C. Marvin, D. Richard Cameron, Paul C. Selmants, A.LeRoy Westerling, Jason Kreitler, Colin J. Daniel, Jinxun Liu, Tamara S. Wilson


2019 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Evidence Synthesis as the Basis for Decision Analysis: A Method of Selecting the Best Agricultural Practices for Multiple Ecosystem Services

Gorm E. Shackelford, Rodd Kelsey, William J. Sutherland, Christina M. Kennedy, Stephen A. Wood, Sasha Gennet, Daniel S. Karp, Claire Kremen, Nathaniel E. Seavy, Julie A. Jedlicka, Kelly Gravuer, Sara M. Kross, Deborah A. Bossio, Andrés Muñoz-Sáez, Deirdre G. LaHue, Kelly Garbach, Lawrence D. Ford, Mark Felice, Mark D. Reynolds, Devii R. Rao, Kathleen Boomer, Gretchen LeBuhn, Lynn V. Dicks

Agricultural management practices impacts not only on crops and livestock, but also soil health, water quality, wildlife, and ecosystem services. There is abundant, but disconnected, scientific evidence for the impacts of different practice. But this evidence is often not used in decision making by farmers or…