Science for Policy

Innovative Conservation Science to Meet the Challenges of our Time

Last December, 196 countries met in Montreal, Canada for the UN Biodiversity COP15 with the goal of creating a new global framework for nature conservation—providing a rallying point for transformative change.

The Nature Conservancy calls for global agreement to curb the drivers of wildlife and habitat loss and leverage nature-based solutions for climate. The following science shows it’s possible to make these changes at scale and to create a future that’s truly durable for people and the planet.

Learn more about our Nature Now global policy campaign at

Biodiversity + Climate Change

Two crises pose a serious threat to life on Earth: the climate change crisis and the nature crisis. They are intrinsically linked. Natural ecosystems play a fundamental role in climate change mitigation, from strengthening the capacity of low-lying areas to withstand storms, to building resilience to drought, floods and fire.

More about Biodiversity + Climate Change

Giving Wildlife Room to Roam in the Face of Climate Change

Why Idaho’s Pioneer Mountains give wildlife room to roam in the face of climate change.

Matthew L. Miller

Natural Forest Regrowth Works for Climate Change Mitigation

One of the most powerful ways trees can help mitigate global climate change may also be one of the most overlooked: letting nature takes its course.

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Co-Benefits for Biodiversity & Carbon in Remnant Forests

New science shows that remnant forests with the greatest tree-species richness also store the most carbon, creating a potential win-win for protecting biodiversity and reducing global carbon emissions.

Justine E. Hausheer

Story type: TNC Science Brief

30X30 Protected Areas

TNC supports a new deal for nature calling for 30 percent of ocean, land and water to be managed as intact and fully functional natural ecosystems. It’s not enough to draw lines on a map—we need to improve the design, management, financing and interconnectivity of these critical areas that sustain us all.  

30×30: Eight Steps to Protect the Best on Earth

More about 30×30 Protected Areas

Nature and Equity: The Future of Lasting Conservation?

Solutions to the challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change may require entwined solutions framed by “Nature and Equity.”

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Market-based Climate Mitigation and Biodiversity Conservation Solutions Must Consider Gender

To be equitable, market-based climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation solutions must also consider gender at their core.

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Biodiversity Conservation: 7 Principles for Matching Goals with Actions

Scientists offer 7 key principles to help achieve the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2050 vision: living in harmony with nature.

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Biodiversity + Protected Areas

Protections should be placed in areas scientifically identified as having the highest conservation value and that represent the planet’s biodiversity. But protected areas alone are not enough without science-based management. A protected area that has lost most of its large mammals, birds and trees through illegal activities cannot fully contribute to reducing extinction rates.

More about Biodiversity + Protected Areas

Protected Areas are Vital, but they are not Enough for Lasting Biodiversity Conservation

Sustaining global biodiversity requires broadening the area-based conservation toolkit beyond protected areas.

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Saving Animals by Mapping Their Migrations

Maps that display migration data with the human connections and livelihoods can help advance sustainable conservation.

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Four Steps for the Earth: Mainstreaming the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

The upcoming Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting, and adoption of the new Global Biodiversity Framework, represent an opportunity to […]

Biodiversity + Indigenous Knowledge

Scientific evidence shows us that indigenous peoples and local communities are often more effective conservation stewards than government-funded protected area agencies. Indigenous owned and managed lands and waters should receive recognition and support for their role in achieving biodiversity conservation targets.

More about Biodiversity + Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous Lands Are Critical for Mammal Conservation

A new analysis reveals the importance of indigenous lands to global mammal conservation.

Justine E. Hausheer

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Indigenous Knowledge Helps Map Habitat for the Threatened Bilby

New research is the first of its kind to incorporate indigenous knowledge into predictive species distribution maps.

Justine E. Hausheer

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Putting Communities At the Center of Freshwater Conservation

What does an effective, community-based freshwater conservation program look like?

Yuta J. Masuda and Allison Aldous

Biodiversity + Siting

Very little of the planet is truly “untouched”—95 percent of the Earth’s surface outside of the polar regions has been modified by humans. Whether it’s clearing land to grow crops and build cities, or fragmenting habitats with highways and railroads, human development has changed the surface of the planet in a variety of ways.

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Empowering Communities with Solar

The ongoing transformation of the U.S.’s energy systems creates a compelling opportunity to build the energy infrastructure of the future.

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Solar Energy Development Doesn’t Have to Destroy Vital Habitat (but It Could)

With careful planning, the U.S. could produce needed solar energy and still protect lands important for animal movement and migration.

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Energy Matters: The Importance of Mitigating the Land Impacts of Energy and Extraction

Energy and mining could convert nearly as much land as agriculture by 2050 – including nearly 80% of all projected expansion into the world’s most intact natural lands.

Matthew L. Miller

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Biodiversity + Cities

Science to help plan cities with nature in mind. With nearly 70 percent of the world’s population expected to live in urban areas by 2050, cities are swelling to accommodate newcomers. It is and will be necessary to integrate biodiversity protection into development, but a new deal for nature should establish national incentives for nature-based solutions in urban areas.

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To Protect Nature, Cities Matter in the Urban Century

New science shows where science-based urban planning could save species, turn cities into biodiversity hubs, and save land for nature.

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

What We Know (And Don’t Know) About Cities & Biodiversity

Scientists don’t know much about how human cities affect other species.

Rob McDonald

A Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles

Rich biodiversity can exist in the biggest of cities, as a new report finds for Los Angeles.

Sophie Parker

Biodiversity + The Ocean

Science to protect, restore and manage marine ecosystems by creating high seas and coastal havens where nature can regenerate and fortify itself against climate change and other threats.

More about Biodiversity + The Ocean

How Healthy is the Ocean? Technology and Big Data Have the Answer

Oceans sustain life on this planet. Ocean ecosystems provide seafood that one in seven people in the world rely on […]

Opportunities to Improve Fisheries Management through Innovative Technology and Advanced Data Systems

In this study, published in Fish and Fisheries, the authors describe the current status, challenges and future directions of high-tech data systems […]

The Editors

Putting Evidence into Action: Solutions for Climate-Ready Fisheries

As climate change upends ecosystems, including fisheries, scientists are moving beyond documenting the impacts to recommending actions to mitigate and adapt to those impacts.

Cara Cannon Byington

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Biodiversity + Fresh Water

Protect and restore ecosystem function in watersheds (e.g., water funds) to provide access to safe drinking water and be a safe haven for wildlife and a resilient buffer to climate change.

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Can Freshwater Reserves Protect Tropical Fish Diversity?

A new paper details the conservation success of community-led freshwater reserves in Thailand.

Matthew L. Miller

Conserving India’s Overlooked Freshwater Ecosystems

Conservation in India may conjure images of tigers and forests, but the country has some of the most diverse freshwater ecosystems on the planet.

Roshni Arora

The Surprising Importance of Freshwater Fisheries to Global Food Security

Marine fisheries are well known for their ability to produce food. But rivers and lakes are vital to food security too.

Matthew L. Miller

Biodiversity + Agriculture

Science for Sustainable Food Production. When it comes to the climate and biodiversity crises, the agricultural sector is both challenge and solution. Science shows many of the most productive approaches to farming work with nature and promote mutually beneficial relationships between food production and the ecological processes that sustain it.

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New Study Finds People and Nature Thrive With Diversified Farming

A new global study finds that the benefits of diversified agriculture are abundantly clear, whether for food security, biodiversity or the bottom line. 

Matthew L. Miller

Story type: TNC Science Brief

Linking Birds, Farmer Attitudes and Conservation

A new paper examines how farmer attitudes towards birds affect on-farm conservation practices.

Matthew L. Miller

New Research Shows Healthy Agriculture Means Healthier Birds

What can stressed-out birds tell us about conservation and agriculture?

Christopher E. Latimer and Christina Kennedy

Biodiversity + Restoration

Science for restoring lost habitats and reducing future impacts. Humanity has left a significant mark on roughly half of the Earth’s lands beyond the polar regions, as well as the majority of the global ocean. To reach biodiversity goals, we need to protect nature in areas outside of wilderness, such as cities and farms.

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Tropics Offer Major Natural Climate Solutions Opportunity

New research identifies tropical countries where targeted investment can have the greatest impact on reducing global emissions in the short term.

Justine E. Hausheer

Story type: TNC Science Brief