In California, a day’s drive can take a visitor from record-setting desert heat to glaciated peaks to temperate rainforests with the world’s tallest trees. This astounding climatic and landscape diversity has helped create a biodiversity hotspot. California is also an economic hotspot – the 6th largest economy in the world – and is home to nearly 40 million people. The demand for land for new development and farms, along with accelerating climate change, puts tremendous stress on ecosystems, and the benefits they provide.

The state’s legacy of conservation has created a network of natural and working lands that benefit people by supplying clean water, capturing carbon, and directly contributing to the state’s economic and cultural vitality through recreation, tourism, and agricultural production. Conservancy scientists work across the spectrum of ecosystem types and human land uses, to advance conservation goals that also contribute to the well-being of people in those places.

Wildlands

Nearly half of California is protected in some land status that prevents most kinds of intensive human land… >>

Harvested Landscapes

A third of California is privately-owned forestland, woodland or grassland. From redwood forests on the north coast to… >>

Cultivated Landscapes

California is the leading agricultural state in the country and it’s agriculture generates more than $45 billion annually.… >>

Urban Areas and Infrastructure

With California’s population on track to reach 50 million people, the demand for energy, water, and land will… >>

Science in Action

Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Economics

Wildfire and Communities

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

Terrestrial | Marine | Economics | Science

TNC and FEMA

How do we increase climate resilience in ways that work for people and nature?

2022 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Foundation plant species provide resilience and microclimatic heterogeneity in drylands

Chris J. Lortie, Alex Fillazola, Mike Westphal, H. Scott Butterfield

Drylands globally, and those plant and animal species in these systems, face increasing challenges from extreme drought. In California, the most recent megadrought allowed us to document for native San Joaquin Desert plants and animals the importance of foundational shrub species for mediating fine-scale near-surface…


2022 | 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…


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 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Soil microbial community composition and tolerance to contaminants in an urban brownfield site

Maura Palacios Mejia, Connie Rojas, Emily Curd, Mark Renshaw, Kiumars Edalati, Beverly Shih, Nitin Vincent, Meixi Lin, Peggy Nguyen, Robert Wayne, Kelsey Jessup, Sophie Parker

This paper presents results from a study conducted at TNC’s multi-benefit stormwater management and habitat enhancement project site adjacent to the Los Angeles River. Due to a history of industrial use, soils at the project site are contaminated with heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, and…


2022 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Predictive ecological land classification from multi-decadal satellite imagery

Daniel Sousa, Frank W. Davis, Kelly Easterday, Mark Reynolds, Laura Riege, H. Scott Butterfield, Moses Katkowski

This paper details a first of its kind approach to land classification, using random forests and multivariate regression trees and historical Landsat satellite imagery to map and then assess changes in oak canopies at the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. Using this “topoclimatic-edaphic” approach to…


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

Developing an adaptive management approach to cowbird control on the Santa Clara River, California

Sophie S. Parker, Linnea S. Hall, Mary J. Whitfield, Laura Riege, Kathryn R. Selm, René Corado

This paper presents results from a field-based study that can be used to benefit songbirds in riverside habitats like those found along the Santa Clara River in Ventura County, California. Songbirds such as the Least Bell’s Vireo suffer population declines in part because Brown-headed…


2022 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Unlocking FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Funding for Coral Reef Restoration: A Feasibility Study in Maui, Hawaii

UC Santa Cruz (Austen E. Stovall, Michael W. Beck), The Nature Conservancy (Alyssa Mann, Tamaki Bieri), Radbridge/formerly Earth Economics (Johnny Mojica, Rowan Schmidt)

Climate change poses severe threats to coastal communities and the ecosystems on which they depend. Warming ocean temperatures increase the magnitude and frequency of storm and coral bleaching events, allowing less time for recovery amidst these threats. Coral reefs complex and stable structure protects against…


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 | Science | Publications & Reports

Potential Lithium Extraction in the United States: Environmental, Economic, and Policy Implications

Sophie S. Parker, Bradley Franklin, Brian S. Cohen, Melissa M. Rohde, Michael Clifford, Andrew Williams

Climate change will cause severe financial, social, and environmental upheaval if a massive reduction in carbon emissions is not achieved by 2030. To address this challenge, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries will play a key role in transitioning the energy and transportation sectors away from fossil fuel…


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 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Publications & Reports

Restoration richness tipping point meta-analysis: finding the sweet spot

Christopher J. Lortie, Maria Florencia Miguel, Alessandro Filazzola, Harry Scott Butterfield

Climate change, drought, and water scarcity are driving major land transformations in dryland ecosystems globally. Historically these ecosystems have been disproportionately degraded due to widespread agricultural conversion. Because of these pressures, there are significant opportunities for rewilding and restoration of these dryland ecosystems. This global…


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 | Science | Data

The Resilient Connected Network in California

Carrie Schloss, Dick Cameron, Elizabeth McGovern

As declines in biodiversity are further exacerbated by changing climate conditions, it is critical to ensure that plants and animals are resilient to the effects of climate change.  This means protecting the places plants and animals are already thriving, important movement routes, and ensuring that…


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 | Science | Maps & Webmaps

Conserving a Global Biodiversity Hotspot, 30x30: A Path to a Resilient Future

Carrie Schloss, Dick Cameron, Charlotte Stanley, Megan Webb

In October 2020, Governor Newsom signed an executive order committing to protect 30% of California by 2030. This could put California on a trajectory to stem the biodiversity crisis. But, where this touches down matters. This storymap makes the case for conducting a planning process…


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…