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 | Technology | Economics

Wildfire and Communities

How can land protection and restoration help protect communities from wildfire?

Terrestrial | Marine | Planning

TNC and the U.S. Navy

How can we protect natural resource and coastal military assets from sea level rise?

2023 | | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Quantifying the smoke-related public health trade-offs of forest management

Claire L. Schollaert, Jihoon Jung, Joseph Wilkins, Ernesto Alvarado, Jill Baumgartner, Julien Brun, Tania Busch Isaksen, Jamie M. Lydersen, Miriam E. Marlier, Julian D. Marshall, Yuta J. Masuda, Charles Maxwell, Christopher W. Tessum, Kristen N. Wilson, Nicholas H. Wolff, June T. Spector

By modeling six scenarios of forest management, wildfire, and health impacts from smoke from 1981-2020, we found that moderate amounts of prescribed fire can decrease harmful particulate matter exposure and reduce asthma related hospitalizations and emergency department visits. This case study from the Tahoe Central…


2023 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Contrasting management paradigms for pronghorn in the arid Southwest and their northern range: a review

William T. Bean, H. Scott Butterfield, Craig Fiehler, David Hacker, Jeanette K. Howard, Russell Namitz, Brandon Swanson, Thomas J. Batter

TNC launched a Water for Wildlife project motivated by understanding the importance of standing free water across the season for wildlife in general, but most importantly for those species sensitive to water availability during times of the year when water is typically limiting in California,…


2023 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Interstate 15 Wildlife Crossing Design Considerations for Focal Wildlife Species. Santa Ana-Palomar Mountains Linkage Southern California

Trish Smith, Cheryl Brehme, Jill Carpenter, Nancy Frost, Megan Jennings, Barbara Kus, Scott Quinnell, Spring Strahm, T. Winston Vickers

The Nature Conservancy and the California Department of Transportation are planning 3 wildlife crossing infrastructure projects along a 3-mile stretch of Interstate 15 (I-15) in the Santa Ana-Palomar Mountains Linkage in southern California. While wildlife crossings are becoming more common, optimal designs that meet the…


2023 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Exploring interacting effects of forest restoration on wildfire risk, hydropower, and environmental flows

Benjamin P. Bryant, Tessa Maurer, Phillip C. Saksa, John D. Herman, Kristen N. Wilson, Edward Smith

The authors of this study analyzed how wildfires and forest restoration, specifically thinning and prescribed fire being implemented in the French Meadows Project in the central Sierra Nevada, could impact streamflow, hydropower generation, and ecological flows for a threatened frog (Foothill yellow legged frogs). By…


2023 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

A resilient and connected network of sites to sustain biodiversity under a changing climate

Mark G. Anderson, Melissa Clark, Arlene P. Olivero, and D. Richard Cameron

In response to biodiversity loss, scientists have called for the protection of well-connected systems of protected areas covering 30 to 50% of the planet. However, as climate change drives shifts in species, conservation plans based on current biodiversity patterns will become less effective. The authors…


2023 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

U.S. exempted fishing permits: Role, value, and lessons learned for adaptive fisheries management

Lindsay Bonito, Lyall Bellquist, Alexis M. Jackson, Kate Kauer, Mary G. Gleason, Jono Wilson, Stuart Sandin

Experimentation supports adaptive and climate-ready fisheries management in numerous contexts. Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) enable fisheries participants, scientists, and managers to collaboratively test new fishing regulations and/or gear types that might advance fishery sustainability, although no evaluation of federal EFP performance had ever been conducted.…


2023 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Stormwater Management

Kristina Kreter, Shona Ganguly, Rowan Roderick-Jones, and Kelsey Jessup

New strategies to address urban runoff management with nature-based approaches offer promising solutions to alleviating climate change impacts—like urban heat, water shortages, and floods—and environmental pollution and the loss of natural green space that diminish the quality of life for vulnerable communities. Vegetated…


2023 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Expanding the Role of Nature-based Solutions in FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs: Lessons and Recommendations

The Nature Conservancy, radbridge, Earth Economics

FEMA increasingly recognizes and emphasizes the role of nature-based solutions (NBS) for building community resilience to hazards like flood, wildfire, and drought, and the agency has made remarkable progress on policies and resources to support NBS in a relatively short period. However, anecdotally it remains…


2023 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Economics | Publications & Reports

Valuing the Flood Reduction Benefits of Marsh Restoration

Taylor-Burns, R., Heard, S., Beck, M. W.

There is growing evidence for the beneficial role that wetlands can play in reducing flood risk, but in many urban estuaries, coastal development has resulted in dramatic habitat loss and fragmentation. In the past several decades, marsh restoration has emerged as a core management objective…


2023 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Cattle Grazing Across The Nature Conservancy in California’s Conservation Estate

Butterfield, H.S., J. Howard, Z. Principe, E. Inlander, S. Sweet, A. Craig, R. Mason, J. Knapp , M. Katkowski

For over 300 years, cattle and sheep have been grazed in California, from the Rancho era continuing to the present day. The Nature Conservancy has a long history in California and across the western United States in using cattle grazing for conservation purposes. In California…


2022 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Learning to Live with Fire in Forest Communities

The Nature Conservancy

A 2022 report, Learning to Live with Fire in Forest Communities, highlights the science and benefits of fire-resilient community design.  TNC partnered with key stakeholders in the Paradise community to demonstrate how redirecting development and urban growth in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), in tandem with nature-based fire buffers…


2022 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Environmental & Historic Preservation Primer for Nature-Based Hazard Mitigation

The Nature Conservancy, FEMA, Nonlinear Ventures, radbridge, Earth Economics

To address the increasing risk of catastrophic flooding, wildfire and other climate-related threats, communities are pursuing nature-based solutions (NBS) and seeking FEMA hazard mitigation funds to support this work. Of all the required activities, the Environmental & Historic Preservation (EHP) review is often cited as…


2022 | Marine | Planning | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

The Business of Restoration: Examining the oyster reef restoration industry in the U.S. with recommendations for how conservation organizations can increase efficiencies and decrease costs to scale restoration efforts

Elliot Hall, Bryan DeAngelis

Oyster reefs are one of the most imperiled habitats on earth. However, current rates of restoration are too slow. We must radically increase the pace, scale, and impact of restoration to recover the abundance, resilience and benefits of these invaluable coastal ecosystems. Fortunately, incredible transformations…


2022 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Blueprint for Resilience: Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative

Patricia N. Manley, Nicholas A. Povak, Kristen Wilson, Kristen Wilson, Mary Lou Fairweather, Vivian Griffey

The Blueprint is a set of strategy maps that identify opportunities for forest protection and adaptation across a 2.4-million-acre region of the central Sierra Nevada. It uses a novel application of the Ecosystem Management Decision Support (EMDS) tool to evaluate spatial data layers against target…


2022 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Stress Testing the BCA Toolkit with Nature-based Solutions: Observations and Recommendations for FEMA

The Nature Conservancy, Earth Economics

FEMA requires that hazard mitigation projects must be cost-effective to the federal government, as demonstrated in a Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA), which compares the present value of a project’s future benefits and costs. A BCA is required for the vast majority of FEMA-funded hazard mitigation projects,…


2022 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Prioritizing actions: spatial action maps for conservation

Heather Tallis, Joe Fargione, Edward Game, Rob McDonald, Leandro Baumgarten, Nirmal Bhagabati, Rane Cortez, Bronson Griscom, Jonathan Higgins, Christina M. Kennedy, Joe Kiesecker, Timm Kroeger, Trina Leberer, Jennifer McGowan, Lisa Mandle, Yuta J. Masuda, Scott Morrison, Sally Palmer, Rebecca Shirer, Priya Shyamsundar, Nicholas H.Wolff, and Hugh P. Possingham

Spatial analysis is a powerful tool in conservation planning. Yet it is often under-deployed as a means of elucidating which conservation actions may deliver the highest return on investment. This paper presents a framework for “spatial action mapping” and discusses how it can improve conservation…


2022 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Restoring shellfish reefs: Global guidelines for practitioners and scientists

James A. Fitzsimons, Simon Branigan, Chris L. Gillies, Robert D. Brumbaugh, Jun Cheng, Bryan M. DeAngelis, Laura Geselbracht, Boze Hancock, Andrew Jeffs, Tein McDonald, Ian M.McLeod, Bernadette Pogoda, Seth J. Theuerkauf, Marine Thomas, Stephanie Westby, Philine S.E. zu Ermgassen

Widespread global declines in shellfish reefs have led to growing interest in their restoration and protection. With restoration projects now occurring on four continents and in at least seven countries, this project developed global restoration guidelines for these ecosystems, developed based on experience over the…


2022 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

The benefits of bivalve reef restoration: A global synthesis of underrepresented species

Philine S. E. zu Ermgassen, Ruth H. Thurstan, Jorge Corrales, Heidi Alleway, Alvar Carranza, Norbert Dankers, Bryan DeAngelis, Boze Hancock, Flora Kent, Ian McLeod, Bernadette Pogoda, Qing Liu, William G. Sanderson

Bivalve habitat restoration is growing in geographic extent and scale globally. Stakeholders and funders are increasingly drawn to shellfish restoration for the many ecosystem services these habitats provide. Ecosystem services, however, remain largely unquantified or even undescribed for the majority of species targeted for restoration.…


2022 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Estimating and Applying Fish and Invertebrate Density and Production Enhancement from Seagrass, Salt Marsh Edge, and Oyster Reef Nursery Habitats in the Gulf of Mexico

Philine S. E. zu Ermgassen, Bryan DeAngelis, , Jonathan R. Gair, Sophus zu Ermgassen, Ronald Baker, Andre Daniels, Timothy C. MacDonald, Kara Meckley, Sean Powers, Marta Ribera, Lawrence P. Rozas & Jonathan H. Grabowski

Seagrasses, oyster reefs, and salt marshes are critical coastal habitats that support high densities of juvenile fish and invertebrates. Yet which species are enhanced through these nursery habitats, and to what degree, remains largely unquantified. Quantitative estimates of production enhancement within specific embayments can be…