With California’s population on track to reach 50 million people, the demand for energy, water, and land will continue to grow. Climate change will compound the strains on society and the environment. Most of this population growth will be centered in larger cities that are already struggling to maintain aging transportation and water infrastructure.

But nature can play an important role in the redevelopment of these systems. Wetlands treat storm water, oyster reefs buffer storm surges, and shade trees reduce heat, providing the benefits of traditional infrastructure while adding scenery and wildlife habitat.

Conservancy scientists are demonstrating how society can minimize trade-offs between development and conservation through innovative regional planning. And by showing what nature can do for cities–and what cities can do for nature–we can develop models for improving the quality of urban life, with broad application on an urbanizing planet.

Science in Action

Terrestrial | Marine | Economics | Science

TNC and FEMA

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

Terrestrial | Marine | Planning

TNC and the U.S. Navy

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

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 | 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…


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 | 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…


2020 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Maps & Webmaps

Planting Stormwater Solutions

Brian Cohen, Kelsey Jessup, Sophie Parker, John Randall, Jill Sourial

Cities across Southern California are investing in new infrastructure to address the challenges of stormwater management. We promote the use of nature-based solutions to ensure projects both treat stormwater and yield multiple additional benefits. TNC’s spatial analyses, summarized in this poster, help prioritize where to site…


2020 | Terrestrial | Technology | Publications & Reports

Remote Property Monitoring at The Nature Conservancy in California

Ethan Inlander, Katie Andrews, Contributors: Jennifer Chin, Sue Pollock, Mike McFadden, Scott Hardage, Scott Butterfield, Tod Rubin

With this publication, TNC in California marks a major shift in its approach to conservation easement monitoring. At the crossroads of conservation, stewardship and technology lies remote property monitoring, an emerging practice that uses airborne/satellite imagery and a seamless web-based platform.  This solution to meeting…


2020 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Santa Ana Mountains to eastern Peninsular Range Conservation Connectivity Infrastructure Planning Project for Interstate 15 and Closely Associated Roadways

Dr. Winston Vickers, Karen C. Drayer, Trish Smith, Brian Cohen

Highways across the greater San Diego region in southern California are major barriers and causes of mortality for mountain lions and are contributing to the species’ genetic restriction and threat of extirpation. Due to their large territories, mountain lions must regularly cross highways in this…


2020 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Data

Low-impact land use pathways to deep decarbonization of electricity

Grace C. Wu, Emily Leslie, Douglas Allen, Oluwafemi Sawyerr, D. Richard Cameron, Erica Brand, Brian Cohen, Marcela Ochoa, Arne Olson

California has ambitious climate and energy policies that call for the development of significant amounts of new zero-carbon energy by midcentury. The Power of Place study looks at multiple pathways to meet California's clean energy demand in alignment with decarbonization goals while limiting the impacts…


2019 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles (BAILA) Report

Parker SS, Randall JM, Pauly GB, Li E, Brown BV, Cohen BS

This report is a product of the Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles (BAILA) project. It provides details on why we conducted our analysis, how the partnership between the Museum and the Conservancy was formed, how our Core Team, Scientific Advisory Group, and Stakeholder Group…


2019 | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Power of Place: Land Conservation and Clean Energy Pathways for California

Grace C. Wu, Emily Leslie, Douglas Allen, Oluwafemi Sawyerr, D. Richard Cameron, Erica Brand, Brian Cohen, Marcela Ochoa, Arne Olson

California has ambitious climate and energy policies that call for the development of significant amounts of new zero-carbon energy by midcentury. The Power of Place study looks at multiple pathways to meet California's clean energy demand in alignment with decarbonization goals while limiting the impacts…


2019 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Data

Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles (BAILA) data

Enjie Li, Sophie S. Parker, Gregory B. Pauly, John M. Randall, Brian V. Brown, Brian S. Cohen

This dataset is a product of the Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles (BAILA) project, and demonstrates a new way to evaluate urban biogeography—patterns in the distribution of species across urban areas. The authors developed a hierarchical, quantitative method for classifying urban lands into different…