2019 Annual Report

Building Healthy Cities

White scroll down indicator

Using nature to make cities more liveable by reducing pollution and heat.

With smart planning, science-based strategies and strong partnerships, we can make the green cities of tomorrow resilient, healthy and equitable.

People enjoy the shade and the view at Gantry Plaza State Park along the East River in Long Island City (Queens), New York. As New York City sees more intense heat waves and frequent storms due to climate change, planting and tending its urban forest will help cool the air and absorb the torrents of rain. Understanding this vital role of the city’s trees, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and local nonprofit New York Restoration Project completed an eight-year project in 2015 to plant 1 million trees.
People enjoy the shade and the view at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, New York. As New York City sees more intense heat waves and frequent storms due to climate change, planting and tending its urban forest will help cool the air and absorb rainwater. © Diane Cook and Len Jenshel
Farmer standing in the middle of field
In northern India, TNC is helping fight the choking smog that threatens peoples’ lives by giving farmers an alternative to burning their fields when they prepare to plant new crops. © Natalya Skiba/TNC
Image of a shop in a Detroit market.
Detroit, Michigan The iconic Greater Eastern Market district. TNC helped create a plan that incorporates stormwater management and public green space into the redevelopment of almost 200 acres. © Michael David-Lorne Jordan/David-Lorne Photographic
Volunteers planting a tree in the ground.
In Albuquerque, TNC is working with local partners and communities to plant trees, enhancing the relationship between cities and nature so that both can thrive. © Roberto Rosales
Hands patting down soil around a tree.
Tree planting in Denver, CO. TNC and Center for Whole Communities established a network of 170 members, representing 24 cities, dedicated to improving urban ecosystems and supporting equitable outcomes. © Kevin Mohatt
Rain pouring in downtown Washington, DC.
Urban stormwater runoff is one of the leading causes of river pollution, especially in the northeastern United States. © Greg Kahn
Man looking at the camera holding a gardening tool.
Community Conservation Robert Harris, Employment Training Specialist at the Delaware Center for Horticulture, plants trees at a Clean and Green site on North Adams Street, Wilmington, DE. © Jordan Bush
Picture of a tree on a street in Kentucky.
Louisville, Kentucky TNC and the University of Louisville’s Envirome Institute began planting trees and shrubs across the city to test how the trees can filter pollution. © Randy Olson
A lake outside of a city.
Restoration interventions at Sembakkam Lake and similar efforts in the cascading network of wetlands will improve the health of the Pallikaranai Marshland, which supports millions of people. © Courtesy TNC India
Farmer standing in the middle of field
In northern India, TNC is helping fight the choking smog that threatens peoples’ lives by giving farmers an alternative to burning their fields when they prepare to plant new crops. © Natalya Skiba/TNC

2019

Improving Delhi’s Air Through Cleaner Farming

Each year, farmers in northwestern India burn some 23 million tons of rice residue in their fields, which, on some days in autumn, can generate almost half of Delhi’s record-breaking air pollution. The Nature Conservancy is working to convince farmers to stop burning and instead use an agricultural machine called the Happy Seeder to prepare their ground for the next crop. Over the past two years, farmers have put some 16,000 Happy Seeders into operation. -Matt Jenkins

Image of a shop in a Detroit market.
Detroit, Michigan The iconic Greater Eastern Market district. TNC helped create a plan that incorporates stormwater management and public green space into the redevelopment of almost 200 acres. © Michael David-Lorne Jordan/David-Lorne Photographic

2019

Soaking Up Water in America’s Largest Cities

In Philadelphia, TNC worked with community-based organizations, including affordable housing providers, to install green infrastructure that prevents water pollution. In Detroit’s iconic Greater Eastern Market district, TNC helped create a plan that incorporates stormwater management and public green space into the redevelopment of almost 200 acres of land. -Maggie Terry

Volunteers planting a tree in the ground.
In Albuquerque, TNC is working with local partners and communities to plant trees, enhancing the relationship between cities and nature so that both can thrive. © Roberto Rosales

2019

Shading Albuquerque’s Heat Island

Albuquerque’s tree cover of about 10% is low, even for a desert city. And with no relief from shade trees, the city becomes a heat island that’s about eight degrees hotter than nearby rural areas during the day. The Nature Conservancy’s urban conservation program and partners will plant 100,000 trees over the next 10 years. They’ll cool neighborhoods and bring other benefits, like cleaner air. -Jocelyn Ellis Abood

Hands patting down soil around a tree.
Tree planting in Denver, CO. TNC and Center for Whole Communities established a network of 170 members, representing 24 cities, dedicated to improving urban ecosystems and supporting equitable outcomes. © Kevin Mohatt

2019

Putting Communities First with Urban Conservation

The Nature Conservancy and Center for Whole Communities established a network of 170 members, representing 24 cities, dedicated to improving urban ecosystems and supporting equitable outcomes for people. The Cities Network partners with community- based organizations to design, fund and implement conservation projects that reduce heat, improve air and water quality, provide flood protection, and enhance the well-being of residents. -Kim Nye

Rain pouring in downtown Washington, DC.
Urban stormwater runoff is one of the leading causes of river pollution, especially in the northeastern United States. © Greg Kahn

2019

Cleaning Stormwater Through the Cloud…

The digital cloud, that is. TNC has created a joint venture with tech company Opti to retrofit stormwater ponds in the Chesapeake Bay watershed with devices that can remotely control the storage and release of water. These controls allow the ponds to better filter water so that cleaner water reaches the bay. Walmart is providing the ponds for the project’s pilot phase. A single retrofitted pond can capture more than 10,000 pounds of pollution each year. -Matthew Kane

Man looking at the camera holding a gardening tool.
Community Conservation Robert Harris, Employment Training Specialist at the Delaware Center for Horticulture, plants trees at a Clean and Green site on North Adams Street, Wilmington, DE. © Jordan Bush

2019

Using Vacant Lots to Teach Job Skills

Across the United States, TNC collaborates with communities to transform vacant lots into green spaces. In Wilmington, TNC supports Delaware Center for Horticulture’s green jobs program, which provides residents with on-the-job training in landscaping and horticulture. Similarly, in Rochester, New York, TNC helps Greentopia, which hires young people to cultivate pollinator flower gardens while gaining business experience by selling bouquets. -Melisa Holman

Picture of a tree on a street in Kentucky.
Louisville, Kentucky TNC and the University of Louisville’s Envirome Institute began planting trees and shrubs across the city to test how the trees can filter pollution. © Randy Olson

2019

Studying Nature as Preventative Care

Louisville, Kentucky, can breathe just a little bit easier as TNC and the University of Louisville’s Envirome Institute began planting 8,000 trees and shrubs across the city in fall of 2019. The program will test how the trees can filter pollution and protect residents from cardiac disease and other ailments. The Green Heart study will follow 735 local people for several years to provide medical evidence for the value of nature. -Misty Edgecomb

A lake outside of a city.
Restoration interventions at Sembakkam Lake and similar efforts in the cascading network of wetlands will improve the health of the Pallikaranai Marshland, which supports millions of people. © Courtesy TNC India

2019

Restoring Wetlands in Drought-Stricken Chennai

In Chennai, India, TNC is aiding in the restoration of urban wetlands to help buffer the impact of droughts and floods—while also improving wildlife habitat. At the Sembakkam Lake pilot project, TNC is removing silt and invasive plants, and building wetlands that will reduce the amount of organic pollution entering the lake by 50% to 70%. -Matt Jenkins

The time to innovate for nature has never been more critical.

This report demonstrates how The Nature Conservancy is answering this challenge not just within the realm of smartly planning cities, but across lands, rivers, oceans, agriculture and climate change.