Dick Cameron

Director of Science
Terrestrial
[email protected]

Dick leads the Land Programs science team in The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter. His work is focused on creating the tools and evidence to integrate conservation into land use and climate policies. Across a variety of California landscapes, his research assesses opportunities to align land conservation and other societal goals, such as alternative energy development, transportation infrastructure, food production and climate stabilization. Currently his priorities are focused on two climate-related conservation questions: how can ecological land management contribute to climate mitigation goals, and how to design connected networks of land that will help species adapt to climate change?

Before the Conservancy, Dick worked for GreenInfo Network, where he specialized in helping organizations and public agencies design and communicate strategic priorities. His academic background is in geography with a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.A. from University of Colorado.

What Dick is working on now:

I am working on developing approaches to model “climate connectivity” to identify lands that will help plants and animals adapt to future changes in land use and climate. I am also using land use change and carbon accounting models to quantify the potential of alternative land management and conservation actions to help meet California’s ambitious climate emissions goals.


Select products

2018 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science

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

Dick Cameron, Carrie Schloss

The Conservancy’s Omniscape tool provides a connectivity roadmap for plants and animals that need to adapt as the climate warms.


2017 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Identification of potentially suitable habitat for strategic land retirement and restoration in the San Joaquin Desert

H. Scott Butterfield, Rodd Kelsey, Abigail Hart, Tanushree Biswas, Mark Kramer, Dick Cameron, Laura Crane, Erica Brand

California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) established a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management. SGMA requires groundwater-dependent regions to halt overdraft and bring basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. As a result, agricultural land retirement is on the rise in the San Joaquin Valley, California’s largest agricultural region and home to…


2017 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Ecosystem management and land conservation can substantially contribute to California’s climate mitigation goals

D. Richard Cameron, David C. Marvin, Jonathan M. Remucal, Michelle C. Passero

Combatting climate change will require using all available tools, especially those that contribute to other societal and economic goals, such as natural resource protection and energy security. Conserving and managing natural and agricultural lands to retain and absorb greenhouse gasses (GHGs) are tools that have…


2017 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Regional Prioritization for Forest Restoration across California's Sierra Nevada

Rodd Kelsey, Edward Smith, Tanushree Biswas, Chris McColl, Kristen Wilson, Dick Cameron

This report provides a systematic regional-scale assessment of biodiversity, fire regime change, and fire risk to infrastructure of forested watersheds across the Sierra Nevada and prioritizes watersheds for forest restoration where the greatest risk reduction to biodiversity and human infrastructure can be achieved. For priority…


2017 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Solar Energy Development and Regional Conservation Planning

D.R. Cameron, L. Crane, S.S. Parker, J.M. Randall

This book chapter discusses how California's greenhouse gas emission reduction goals spurred solar development in the Mojave Desert—development that could have negative impacts if poorly sited. The authors discuss their wall-to-wall assessment of conservation values across the 32-million-acre Mojave Desert, and their estimation of…


2016 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Future land-use related water demand in California

Tamara S Wilson, Benjamin M Sleeter, D Richard Cameron

This publication discusses how land use changes in Mediterranean California will drive changes in water use between urban uses and annual vs. perennial crops. The authors used a state-and-transition simulation model to project business-as-usual trends into the future for developed (municipal and industrial) and agricultural…




2015 | Terrestrial | Planning | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Integrating Land Conservation and Renewable Energy Goals in California: A Study of Costs and Impacts Using the Optimal Renewable Energy Build-Out (ORB) Model

The Nature Conservancy: Erica Brand, Laura Crane, Dick Cameron, Energy and Environmental Economics: Grace C. Wu, Nick Schlag

Integrating ecological data into long-term energy planning is critical to meet both California’s long term energy and conservation goals. This report assesses the potential trade-offs associated with renewable energy build-out by evaluating the land and water use implications and cost of a range of potential…


2015 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Land-use impacts on water resources and protected areas: applications of state-and-transition simulation modeling of future scenarios

Tamara S. Wilson, Jason Sherba, Dick Cameron, Benjamin M Sleeter

Human land use will increasingly contribute to habitat loss and water shortages in California, given future population projections and associated land-use demand. Understanding how land-use change may impact future water use and where existing protected areas may be threatened by land-use conversion will be important…


2014 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Modeling residential development in California from 2000 to 2050: Integrating wildfire risk, wildland and agricultural encroachment

M.L. Mann, P. Berck, M.A. Moritz, E. Batllori, J.G. Baldwin, C.K. Gately, D.R. Cameron

Between 1940 and 2000, nearly 10 million housing units were constructed in California. This new development led to increased interaction between human and natural communities. Tha authors of this paper modeled the extent and intensity of future housing settlements between 2000 and 2050 using three…



2014 | Terrestrial | Maps & Webmaps

California Rangeland Conversion webmap

Dick Cameron

This webmap shows regions of California converted from rangeland land use to development, intensive agriculture, or other miscellaneous land uses between 1984 and 2008. See related publication and blog


2014 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Whither the Rangeland?: Protection and Conversion of California’s Rangeland Ecosystems

Cameron DR, Marty J, Holland RF

This study assesses the amount of rangeland conversion between 1984 and 2008 in California. The researchers analyzed data from the California Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program to see where conversion has occurred and what land uses have replaced rangelands. The degree to which rangelands were protected…


2013 | Terrestrial | Planning | Data

Western San Joaquin Valley Least Conflict Solar Energy Assessment data

Butterfield, H.S., D. Cameron, E. Brand, M. Webb, E. Forsburg, M. Kramer, E. O’Donoghue, L. Crane

The Western San Joaquin Valley Least Conflict Solar Energy Assessment characterizes the land use constraints and opportunities associated with siting solar energy facilities in the Western San Joaquin Valley (WSJV). Because the San Joaquin Valley currently has no official process to develop a conservation and…


2013 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Western San Joaquin Valley Least Conflict Solar Energy Assessment

Butterfield, H.S., D. Cameron, E. Brand, M. Webb, E. Forsburg, M. Kramer, E. O’Donoghue, L. Crane

A Conservancy analysis of the western Mojave Desert identified where human activities had degraded the conservation value of lands making them potentially low impact locations for development of solar facilities. In this assessment authors applied that same approach in the Western San Joaquin Valley—an area with…


2013 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Laying the Foundation: How Existing Conservation Areas Have Helped Prepare California for Climate Change

Klausmeyer, K, D. Cameron, S. Morrison

This study evaluated the existing network of conservation lands in California to determine the extent to which it includes landscape features that may be especially important for biodiversity conservation in the context of climate change. The authors found that past conservation action has created an…


2012 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Solar Energy Development in the Western Mojave Desert

Cameron, D., S. Parker, B. Cohen, J. Randall, B. Christian, J. Moore, L. Crane, S. A. Morrison

Industrial-scale renewable energy generation facilities can have sizable footprints and therefore significant impact on the conservation values of a landscape. This assessment focused on a region experiencing intense development pressure, the western Mojave Desert, to highlight how facilities could be sited to have lower impact…


2012 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

An Approach to Enhance the Conservation-Compatibility of Solar Energy Development

Cameron, D.R., B.S. Cohen, S.A. Morrison

California, like many regions in the world, needs to plan for emissions reductions and domestic clean energy. Ideally, that would be done in a way that is strategic, not reactionary. Through science-based landscape planning for conservation and energy, the trade-offs between energy development and habitat…


2012 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Economic costs of achieving current conservation goals in the future as climate changes

M. Rebecca Shaw, Kirk Klausmeyer, D. Richard Cameron, Jason MacKenzie, Patrick Roehrdanz

Species will move around the landscape as the climate changes, presenting challenges for traditional conservation strategies like land acquisition. This paper models the cost and total land area that needs to be protected by 2100 to track the changing distribution of 11 focal species of…


2011 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

The impact of climate change on California’s ecosystem services

Shaw, M.R., L. Pendleton, D.R. Cameron, B. Morris, D. Bachelet, K. Klausmeyer, J. MacKenzie, D.R. Conklin, G.N. Bratman, J. Lenihan, E. Haunreiter, C. Daly, P.R. Roehrdanz

As the climate warms, changes in ecosystems will impact human communities and livelihoods. This paper, together with a California Energy Commission Scenarios Report of the same name, explores the broad impacts of climate change on ecosystem services and California’s economy. These publications help direct land…


2011 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Landscape-scale indicators of biodiversity's vulnerability to climate change

Klausmeyer, K. R., M. R. Shaw, J.B. MacKenzie, D.R.Cameron

This analysis provides an approach for distilling complex climate and landscape data into actions land managers can take to help plants and animals adapt to a changing climate. Based on historical data, climate projections and landscape attributes like topography, coastal proximity and habitat fragmentation that…


2011 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Northern Sierra Partnership Climate Adaptation Assessment

Cameron, D., K. Klausmeyer, J. Mackenzie, G. Low, L. Provencher

Climate change will impact plants and animals across the state, and conservationists are often unaware of the best way to address this threat. While much of the land in the Northern Sierra is public and protected from development, it is still at risk to changes…


2011 | Freshwater | Science | Publications & Reports

Identifying habitat conservation priorities and gaps for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl in California

Stralberg, D., D. Cameron, M. Reynolds, C. Hickey, K. Klausmeyer, S. Busby, L. Stenzel, W. Shuford, G. Page

This analysis provides the first comprehensive overview of the specific habitats used by 42 different migratory waterbird species throughout California. The authors reveal important gaps in protection for wintering habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl and highlight the importance of agricultural lands in migratory bird conservation. They advocate…


2010 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Mojave Desert Ecoregional Assessment

John M. Randall, Sophie S. Parker, James Moore, Brian Cohen, Laura Crane, Bill Christian, Dick Cameron, Jason B. Mackenzie, Kirk Klausmeyer, Scott Morrison

Regional conservation planning is critical to inform land and resource use decisions. The Mojave Desert Ecoregional Assessment represents an important advance in such planning, because of how its output  characterized not just areas of high conservation value, but how conservation values distributed and graded across…


2010 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Southern Sierra Partnership Framework

Susan Antenen , Dick Cameron, EJ Remson, Jason MacKenzie, Jim Gaither, Sophie Parker, Zach Principe, with Southern Sierra Partnership

This collaborative conservation assessment, characterizes the biodiversity, ecosystem services, ownerships, and land uses in the Southern Sierra and Tehachapi Mountains, and assesses threats to conservation values. The authors examine how a changing climate will impact or interact with these threats, forecast long-term responses in the landscape, and…


2010 | Terrestrial | Planning | Data

Mojave Desert Ecoregional Assessment data

Dick Cameron , Brian Cohen

This dataset is a product of the Mojave Desert Ecoregional Assessment and characterizes the distribution of biodiversity conservation values and land disturbance to help inform regional land-use and conservation investment. The data were grouped into four categories of conservation value: Ecologically Core, Ecologically Intact,…


2009 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales

Erik Nelson, Guillermo Mendoza, James Regetz, Stephen Polasky, Heather Tallis, D. Richard Cameron, Kai MA Chan, Gretchen C. Daily, Joshua Goldstein, Peter M. Kareiva, Eric Lonsdorf, Robin Naidoo, Taylor H. Ricketts, M. Rebecca Shaw

Humans benefit from the goods and services provided by natural ecosystems like water filtration, carbon storage, and recreational opportunities to name a few. Assigning economic value to these "ecosystem services" would allow planners to assess the true costs and benefits of different development and land…