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 | Marine | Planning

TNC and the U.S. Navy

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

Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science

Rewilding the San Joaquin Valley

40 years of science sets the course for the largest recovery of species in U.S. history

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

Sacramento River: balancing ecological and social restoration goals to restore riparian habitat along a lowland floodplain river, California, USA

Case study by: K.D. Holl, G.H. Golet

Advancing conservation requires understanding the constraints imposed on natural systems by human societies. This understanding typically comes from engagement with local stakeholders, as opposed to from scholastic training. A recent textbook on restoration ecology by Karen Holl seeks to alleviate this problem by providing real-world…


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Integrating citizen science data with expert surveys increases accuracy and spatial extent of species distribution models.

O.J. Robinson, V. Ruiz-Gutierrez, M.D. Reynolds, G.H. Golet, M. Strimas-Mackey and D. Fink

Information on species’ habitat associations and distributions, across wide spatial and temporal scales, is fundamental for guiding conservation. Yet these data are often in short supply. In recent years citizen science data, such as that derived from eBird, has increasingly become available to fill…


2021 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Enhancing Habitat Value for Shorebirds in Rice Agriculture

Case study by: Khara Strum (Audubon California), Kristin Sesser (Point Blue Conservation Science), Greg Golet (TNC)

This case study communicates lessons learned by TNC and partners from years of research and monitoring of habitat enhancement projects in Sacramento Valley rice agriculture. It is a contribution to the Shorebird Management Manual that was developed by Manomet with guidance from shorebird…


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

Coastal Adaptation Vision for Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu: Technical Report

Environmental Science Associates (ESA) for The Nature Conservancy and Naval Base Ventura County


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Video

StoryMap: Restoring coastal wetlands for climate resilience: A case study at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu

Charlotte Stanley, Alyssa Mann, Walter Heady

The United States operates thousands of military installations in the U.S. and worldwide, worth about $1.2 trillion. These facilities are where personnel train and test weaponry, with the specific aim of ensuring the nation’s security. With climate change, coastal installations are now being impacted by rising sea levels, erosion and…


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

Restoring coastal wetlands for climate resilience: A case study at Naval Base Ventura County, Pt. Mugu

Walter Heady, Alyssa Mann, Stacey Solie, Bob Battalio, James Jackson, Kendall Lousen, and Bob Barnes

The U.S. Congress and the Department of Defense (DoD) have determined that climate change is a threat to national security and have required military installations to develop plans to improve the climate resilience of both military installations and key supporting civilian infrastructure. This report, co-authored…


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

Coastal Adaptation with the U.S. Navy at Point Mugu

Alyssa Mann, Walter Heady, Charlotte Stanley

TNC and the United States Navy partnered together to prepare for the impacts of climate change on Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC), Point Mugu in California. NBVC is a critical and strategic asset of the U.S. Navy. It is also home to Mugu Lagoon, the…


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Cannabis farms in California rely on wells outside of regulated groundwater basins

Christopher Dillis, Van Butsic, Jennifer Carah, Samuel Zipper, Theodore Grantham

Water management practices for cannabis farming in California are not well understood. This study examined permit reporting data and found that the vast majority (>75%) of permitted cannabis farms use groundwater wells to source water, with many wells located outside regulated groundwater basins. Groundwater pumping…


2021 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Analogies for a No-Analog World: Tackling Uncertainties in Reintroduction Planning

Elizabeth S. Forbes, Peter S. Alagona, Andrea J. Adams, Sarah E. Anderson, Kevin C.Brown, Jolie Colby, Scott D. Cooper, Sean M. Denny, Elizabeth H.T. Hiroyasu, Robert Heilmayr, Bruce E. Kendall, Jennifer A. Martin, Molly Hardesty-Moore, Alexis M. Mychajliw, Brian P. Tyrrell, Zoë S.Welch

Species reintroductions in a changing world are difficult and highly uncertain. This paper introduces a framework to assess habitat suitability using historic, geographic, and taxonomic analogies to triangulate places best suited for reintroduction using the California Grizzly as a case study.


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Shifting geographies of legal cannabis production in California

Christopher Dillis, Eric Biber, Hekia Bodwitch, Van Butsic, Jennifer Carah, Phoebe Parker-Shames, Michael Polson, and Theodore Grantham

This study used permitting and GIS data to explore geographic characteristics of legal cannabis farms in California. The study found two divergent paths of development - one characterized by numerous, smaller farms in rugged, tree-covered landscapes in historical cannabis producing regions (Humboldt, Mendocino, Trinity counties),…


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 | Science | Publications & Reports

Facilitation promotes plant invasions and indirect negative interactions

Christopher J. Lortie, Alessandro Filazzola, Charlotte Brown, Jacob Lucero, Mario Zuliani, Nargol Ghazian, Stephanie Haas, Malory Owen, H. Scott Butterfield, Emmeleia Nix, Michael Westphal

There are many pressures that influence the ecological capacity and health of drylands around the world. Shrubs are often a critical component of these systems and can function positively as foundation species through facilitation of other species. But, shrubs can also have negative and indirect effects…


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 | 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…