Technology is enabling conservation scientists to collect and analyze data with an efficiency unimagined just decades ago. Satellite and drone-based remote sensing allow rapid mapping and monitoring of environmental conditions; networked sensors such as camera traps and flow meters provide real-time data about the health and potential threats to important resources.

Data are fundamental to making science-based conservation decisions. By modernizing environmental data capture and analysis and streamlining the delivery of usable information to decision makers, we can unlock new opportunities for transformative change in resource management.

The Conservancy’s team of designers, engineers, and data scientists are continually applying new applications of technology to increase the pace and scale of conservation in California – and beyond.

Science in Action

Marine | Technology | Science

Closing the Abalone Data Gap

Can putting technology in the hands of citizen scientists transform how abalone are managed?

Freshwater | Terrestrial | Technology | Economics | Science

Dynamic Conservation

In an era of rapid global change, how can conservationists provide habitat where and when nature needs it most?

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

A framework to select strategies for conserving and restoring habitat connectivity in complex landscapes

D. Richard Cameron, Carrie A. Schloss, David M. Theobald, Scott A. Morrison

Protecting or restoring habitat connectivity in landscapes undergoing rapid environmental change requires multiple conservation and restoration strategies. These strategies have different risk profiles, costs, and require various types of expertise to conduct. This diversity in landscape context and strategic approach requires more nuance than traditional…


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

The influence of model frameworks in spatial planning of regional climate-adaptive connectivity for conservation planning

Hyeyeong Choe, Annika T.H. Keeley, D. Richard Cameron, Melanie Gogol-Prokurat, Lee Hannah, Patrick R. Roehrdanz, Carrie A. Schloss, James H. Thorne

Planning for connectivity conservation often relies on modeled movement routes. However, these pathways can be sensitive to the conservation objective, modeling approach, analysis tool, and assumptions. The authors compared four different approaches to planning for connectivity for climate adaptation in California.  Three or more models…


2022 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Maps & Webmaps

The Mitigation Wizard

Carrie Schloss, Liz O’Donoghue, Dan Rademacher, Patric Huber, Jodi McGraw, Kim Becerril, Janine Knapp

Every year, infrastructure agencies and developers spend hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate for impacts to sensitive species and habitats. These mitigation sites are often piecemeal projects, which can result in islands of mitigation. Regional advance mitigation programs seek to change this paradigm so…


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

“No-regrets” pathways for navigating climate change: planning for connectivity with land use, topography, and climate

Carrie A. Schloss, D. Richard Cameron, Brad H. McRae, David M. Theobald, and Aaron Jones

Plant and animal species are already shifting their ranges in response to a changing climate. Maintaining connectivity between present habitat and suitable habitat in the future will become increasingly important to ensure lasting protection for biodiversity. Connectivity that facilitates climate adaptation requires pathways with "stepping…


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

Quantity and fate of synthetic microfiber emissions from apparel washing in California and strategies for their reduction

Roland Geyer, Jenna Gavigan, Alexis M. Jackson, Vienna R. Saccomanno, Sangwon Suh, Mary G. Gleason

Synthetic microfibers are the most prevalent type of microplastic and apparel washing is a major source of microfiber pollution. Using California as a case study to estimate the magnitude of microfiber emissions and evaluate mitigation approaches, the authors estimate that in 2019 over 4,850,000 pounds (2.2…


2022 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Reducing the Risk of Mortality to Whales

Jessica Morten, Ryan Freedman, Jeffrey D. Adams, Jono Wilson, Aliya Rubinstein, Sean Hastings

The great whales, including, blue, humpback, and fin whales are threatened by collisions with ocean going vessels. Global shipping traffic is projected to increase up to 12-fold in coming decades. Slowing vessels down reduces the risk of whale collisions and mortality. Here, the authors examined…


2022 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Lost Fishing Gear is a Key Contributor to Ocean Plastic Pollution

Brandon Kuczenski, Camila Vargas Poulsen, Eric L. Gilman, Michael Musyl, Roland Geyer, Jono Wilson

More than 4.5 million fishing vessels ply ocean waters each year, setting countless nets, traps, hooks and lines. Much of this fishing gear is made of plastic components and a significant fraction of it is lost in the ocean each year, causing irreparable harm to…


2022 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Use of Simple Indicators to Improve Fisheries Management

William J. Harford, Ricardo Amoroso, Richard J. Bell, Matias Caillaux, Jason Marc Cope, Dawn Dougherty, Natalie Anne Dowling, Frank Hurd, Serena Lomonico, Josh Nowlis, Dan Ovando, Ana M. Parma, Jeremy D. Prince, Jono R. Wilson

Overfishing threatens the health of ocean ecosystems. Effective fisheries management is key to minimizing ocean impacts and improving outcomes for millions of fishing dependent people throughout the world. Most fisheries, however, lack sufficient data for managers to perform quantitative stock assessments and inform management regulations.…


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

Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve Invasive Plant Species Action Plan

Moses Katkowski, H. Scott Butterfield, John Knapp, Kelly Easterday, Laura Riege, Mark Reynolds

This 5-year action plan describes the vision for invasive plant species mapping, monitoring and treatment at the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve in Sourthern California. The plan is adaptive and will updated as new species, management approaches (including new and emerging technologies), and monitoring results…


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

Planting Stormwater Solutions: A methodology for siting nature-based solutions for pollution capture, habitat enhancement, and multiple health benefits

Kelsey Jessup, Sophie S. Parker, John M. Randall, Brian S. Cohen, Rowan Roderick-Jones, Shona Ganguly, Jill Sourial

This paper presents results from Planting Stormwater Solutions, part of TNC’s Urban Conservation work in Los Angeles. The authors develop a methodology to prioritize siting of vegetated nature-based solutions for stormwater capture so that these projects maximize benefits to biological diversity, social and public…


2021 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

The tree cover and temperature disparity in US urbanized areas: Quantifying the association with income across 5,723 communities

Robert I. McDonald, Tanushree Biswas, Cedilla Sachar, Ian Housman, Timothy M. Boucher, Deborah Balk, David Nowak, Erica Spotswood, Charlotte K. Stanley, Stefan Leyk

Urban tree cover provides benefits to human health and well-being, but it is often inequitably distributed. In this study, researchers Google Earth Engine (GEE) and an automated machine learning algorithm to map urban tree cover at 2m resolution across 5,723 municipalities and unincorporated communities in the…


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 | 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 | Terrestrial | Technology | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative Phase 1 Restoration Wood Supply Assessment

Tom Baribault, Daniel Porter, Jessica Burton Desrocher, Douglas Larmour, Mark Rasmussen, Roy Anderson

The Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative (TCSI) area has seen recent megafires and is highly developed, making the risk new of human-caused wildfire ignitions high. In this report, experts from Mason Bruce & Girard, The Beck Group and The Nature Conservancy assess quantities of…


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

Accelerating Forest Restoration: Stimulating a Forest-Restoration Economy and Rebuilding Resilience in California’s Fire-Adapted Forests

Daniel Porter, Robert Longcor

Forests of the Sierra Nevada and across the western U.S. are under unprecedented threat from catastrophic wildfire, insect outbreaks, and drought. In this briefing paper, which was developed as a collaboration between Bain and Company and The Nature Conservancy, we assess the challenges and…


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 | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Conservation of Mojave Desert springs and associated biota: status, threats, and policy opportunities

Sophie S. Parker, Andy Zdon, William T. Christian, Brian S. Cohen, Maura Palacios Mejia, Naomi S. Fraga, Emily E. Curd, Kiumars Edalati, Mark A. Renshaw

This paper presents results from the Mojave Desert Springs research project, and discusses why the conservation of these groundwater-dependent ecosystems is so critical to biodiversity. The authors present results of a comprehensive survey of Mojave Desert springs including hydrological and ecological observations, and an…


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

The utility of environmental DNA from sediment and water samples for recovery of observed plant and animal species from four Mojave Desert springs

Maura Palacios Mejia, Emily Curd, Kiumars Edalati, Mark A. Renshaw, Roy Dunn, Daniel Potter, Naomi Fraga, Jenna Moore, Justin Saiz, Robert Wayne, Sophie S. Parker

This paper presents results from the Mojave Desert Springs research project. The authors used an environmental DNA (eDNA) technique to assess biodiversity at four naturally occurring springs. They compared the effectiveness of detecting DNA in water and sediment with conventional field survey and…