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Heather Tallis heather tallis smiling © The Nature Conservancy

Our People

Heather Tallis

Global Managing Director, Lead Scientist for Strategy Innovation



Heather Tallis is Global Managing Director, Lead Scientist for Strategy Innovation for The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental organization. She is a recognized scientific leader in bringing human well-being considerations into conservation. Previously, Tallis served as the first female lead scientist in the history of the Conservancy. She directed the Human Dimensions Program, an initiative that incorporates ecological, social and economic sciences so that human well-being is integrated into conservation practice from the planning stage forward.

Heather has developed, planned and executed many innovative research programs at the Conservancy. Her recent initiatives include:

  • Using data and publicly available test scores to explore the connection between nature views and elementary school test scores.
  • Analyzing available data in the United States to identify which individual choices can have the biggest impact on water scarcity in drought-prone regions.
  • Expanding the definition of poverty beyond income, and moving beyond arbitrary poverty lines in the US and developing countries, to better inform economic and conservation programs.
  • Exploring landscape-level connections between wildlife, livestock, tourism, income, nutrition and tick-borne disease in Northern Kenya.
  • Incorporating ecosystem services in national planning.

Before joining the Conservancy in 2013, Heather was lead scientist at the Natural Capital Project, where she led the development of a pioneering software application (InVEST) that reveals the ecosystem service costs and benefits of land and water use decisions. At the Natural Capital Project, Heather also helped develop a new free software tool — RIOS — which uses biophysical, ecological and social data to help policymakers and others maximize the feasibility and effectiveness of watershed investments. RIOS will be used to design 40 new water funds in Latin America and Africa. 

Tallis has worked with governments, corporations and non-governmental organizations to use science about nature’s benefits to inform a host of policy and planning decisions. She has guided research with diverse stakeholders across the globe and holds leadership and has held expert advisory roles with the World Bank and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. 

She holds a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Washington and Master’s degrees from the University of Otago and University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is now adjunct faculty. She is co-editor of the book Natural Capital: The Theory and Practice of Mapping Ecosystem Services, released by Oxford University Press in 2011.

Download Heather's CV

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Philanthropy Must Connect the Planet's Health with Human Health

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Heather Speaks on "Mainstreaming the Value of Nature"

Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Bridging the Conservation Divide

Heather's work on diversity in conservation is reported in the New Yorker

Lack of Diversity is Impeding Successful Conservation Actions

The Guardian quotes Heather on the lack of diversity in conservation

How Faith Plays into the New Conservation Debate

High Country News cites Heather on the role of environmental faith in conservation


Visit Heather's Google Scholar Profile for a full list of publications.


P. Shyamsundar, N. P. Springer, H. Tallis, S. Polasky, M. L. Jat, H. S. Sidhu, P. P. Krishnapriya, N. Skiba, W. Ginn, V. Ahuja, J. Cummins, I. Datta, H. H. Dholakia, J. Dixon, B. Gerard, R. Gupta, J. Hellmann, A. Jadhav, H. S. Jat, A. Keil, J. K. Ladha, S. Lopez-Ridaura, S. P. Nandrajog, S. Paul, A. Ritter, P. C. Sharma, R. Singh, D. Singh, R. Somanathan. (2019) Fields on fire: Alternatives to crop residue burning in India. Science. 09 AUG 2019, 536-538


Olander, L.P., Johnston, R.J., Tallis, H., Kagan, J., Maguire, L.A., Polasky, S., Urban, D., Boyd, J., Wainger, L. & Palmer, M. (2018). Benefit relevant indicators: Ecosystem services measures that link ecological and social outcomes. Ecological Indicators, 85, 1262–1272.


Allan, B.F., Tallis, H., Chaplin-Kramer, R., Huckett, S., Kowal, V.A., Musengezi, J., Okanga, S., Ostfeld, R.S., Schieltz, J., Warui, C.M., Wood, S.A. & Keesing, F. (2017). Can integrating wildlife and livestock enhance ecosystem services in central Kenya? Front Ecol Environ.

Balvanera, P., Quijas, S., Karp, D.S., Ash, N., Bennett, E.M., Boumans, R., Brown, C., Chan, K.M.A., Chaplin-Kramer, R., Halpern, B.S., Honey-Rosés, J., Kim, C.-K., Cramer, W., Martínez-Harms, M.J., Mooney, H., Mwampamba, T., Nel, J., Polasky, S., Reyers, B., Roman, J., Turner, W., Scholes, R.J., Tallis, H., Thonicke, K., Villa, F., Walpole, M. & Walz, A. (2017). Ecosystem Services. In: The GEO Handbook on Biodiversity Observation Networks. Springer, Cham, pp. 39–78.

Goldstein, J.H., Tallis, H., Cole, A., Schill, S., Martin, E., Heiner, M., Paiz, M.-C., Aldous, A., Apse, C. & Nickel, B. (2017). Spatial planning for a green economy: National-level hydrologic ecosystem services priority areas for Gabon. PLOS ONE, 12, e0179008.

Tallis, H. (2017). Energy and ecosystem services in Latin America. In: Energy Sprawl Solutions (eds. Kiesecker, J.M. & Naugle, D.E.). Island Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 89–100.


Grimm, N.B., Groffman, P., Staudinger, M. & Tallis, H. (2016). Climate change impacts on ecosystems and ecosystem services in the United States: process and prospects for sustained assessment. Climatic Change, 1–13.

Mandle, L., Douglass, J., Lozano, J.S., Sharp, R.P., Vogl, A.L., Denu, D., Walschburger, T. & Tallis, H. (2016). OPAL: An open-source software tool for integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services into impact assessment and mitigation decisions. Environmental Modelling & Software, 84, 121–133.

Mandle, L. & Tallis, H. (2016). Spatial Ecosystem Service Analysis for Environmental Impact Assessment of Projects. In: Handbook on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Impact Assessment. p. 15.

National Academies of Sciences. (2016). Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico.The National Academies Press, Washington DC.

Tallis, H., Kennedy, C.M., Ruckelshaus, M., Goldstein, J. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2016). Mitigation for the people: an ecosystem services framework. In: Handbook on biodiversity and ecosystem services in impact assessment (ed. Geneletti, D.). Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK, pp. 397–427.

Tallis, H., Polasky, S., Biske, R., DeGeus, D., Dell, R., Doane, M., Downes, L., Goldstein, J., Hodgman, T., Johnson, K., Luby, I., Pennington, D., Reuter, M., Segerson, K., Stark, I., Stark, J., Vollmer-Sanders, C. & Weaver, S.K. (2016). Financing Change: Five bold ways to revive the Dead Zone and rebuild soils. The University of Minnesota, St. Paul, and The Nature Conservancy, Washington, D.C.


Díaz, S., Demissew, S., Carabias, J., Joly, C. … Tallis, H. and 79 others. (2015). The IPBES Conceptual Framework — connecting nature and people. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 14, 1–16.

Guerry, A.D., Polasky, S., Lubchenco, J., Chaplin-Kramer, R., Daily, G.C., Griffin, R., Ruckelshaus, M., Bateman, I.J., Duraiappah, A., Elmqvist, T., Feldman, M.W., Folke, C., Hoekstra, J., Kareiva, P.M., Keeler, B.L., Li, S., McKenzie, E., Ouyang, Z., Reyers, B., Ricketts, T.H., Rockström, J., Tallis, H. & Vira, B. (2015). Natural capital and ecosystem services informing decisions: from promise to practice. PNAS, 112, 7348–7355.

Karp, D.S., Tallis, H., Sachse, R., Halpern, B., Thonicke, K., Cramer, W., Mooney, H., Polasky, S., Tietjen, B., Waha, K., Walz, A. & Wolny, S. (2015). National indicators for observing ecosystem service change. Global Environmental Change, 35, 12–21.

Mandle, L., Tallis, H., Sotomayor, L. & Vogl, A.L. (2015). Who loses? Tracking ecosystem service redistribution from road development and mitigation in the Peruvian Amazon. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 13, 309–315.

Olander, L., Johnston, R.J., Tallis, H., Kagan, J., Maquire, L., Boyd, J., Polasky, S. & Wainger, L. (2015). Best practices for integrating ecosystem services into federal decision making.

Polasky, S., Tallis, H. & Reyers, B. (2015). Setting the bar: standards for ecosystem services. PNAS, 112, 7356–7361.

Ruckelshaus, M., McKenzie, E., Tallis, H., Guerry, A., Daily, G., Kareiva, P., Polasky, S., Ricketts, T., Bhagabati, N., Wood, S.A. & Bernhardt, J. (2015). Notes from the field: lessons learned from using ecosystem service approaches to inform real-world decisions. Ecological Economics, 115, 11–21.

Selomane, O., Reyers, B., Biggs, R., Tallis, H. & Polasky, S. (2015). Towards integrated social–ecological sustainability indicators: exploring the contribution and gaps in existing global data. Ecological Economics, 118, 140–146.

Tallis, H., Kennedy, C.M., Ruckelshaus, M., Goldstein, J. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2015). Mitigation for one & all: an integrated framework for mitigation of development impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 55, 21–34.

Williams, J.R., Masuda, Y.J. & Tallis, H. (2015). A measure whose time has come: formalizing time poverty. Social Indicators Research, 1–19.


Bhagabati, N.K., Ricketts, T., Sulistyawan, T.B.S., Conte, M., Ennaanay, D., Hadian, O., McKenzie, E., Olwero, N., Rosenthal, A., Tallis, H. & Wolny, S. (2014). Ecosystem services reinforce Sumatran tiger conservation in land use plans. Biological Conservation, 169, 147–156.

Mooney, H. & Tallis, H. (2014). Fauna in decline: global assessments. Science, 345, 885.

Tallis, H., Lubchenco, J. & 238 others. (2014). Working together: a call for inclusive conservation. Nature, 515, 27–28.

Terrado, M., Acuña, V., Ennaanay, D., Tallis, H. & Sabater, S. (2014). Impact of climate extremes on hydrological ecosystem services in a heavily humanized Mediterranean basin. Ecological Indicators, 37, Part A, 199–209. 


Nelson, E.J., Kareiva, P., Ruckelshaus, M., Arkema, K., Geller, G., Girvetz, E., Goodrich, D., Matzek, V., Pinsky, M., Reid, W., Saunders, M., Semmens, D. & Tallis, H. (2013). Climate change’s impact on key ecosystem services and the human well-being they support in the US. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 11, 483–893.


Guerry, A.D., Ruckelshaus, M.H., Arkema, K.K., Bernhardt, J.R., Guannel, G., Kim, C.-K., Marsik, M., Papenfus, M., Toft, J.E., Verutes, G., Wood, S.A., Beck, M., Chan, F., Chan, K.M.A., Gelfenbaum, G., Gold, B.D., Halpern, B.S., Labiosa, W.B., Lester, S.E., Levin, P.S., McField, M., Pinsky, M.L., Plummer, M., Polasky, S., Ruggiero, P., Sutherland, D.A., Tallis, H., Day, A. & Spencer, J. (2012). Modeling benefits from nature: using ecosystem services to inform coastal and marine spatial planning. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management, 8, 107–121.

Kim, C.-K., Toft, J.E., Papenfus, M., Verutes, G., Guerry, A.D., Ruckelshaus, M.H., Arkema, K.K., Guannel, G., Wood, S.A., Bernhardt, J.R., Tallis, H., Plummer, M.L., Halpern, B.S., Pinsky, M.L., Beck, M.W., Chan, F., Chan, K.M.A., Levin, P.S. & Polasky, S. (2012). Catching the right wave: evaluating wave energy resources and potential compatibility with existing marine and coastal uses. PLoS ONE, 7, e47598.

Reyers, B., Polasky, S., Tallis, H., Mooney, H.A. & Larigauderie, A. (2012). Finding common ground for biodiversity and ecosystem services. BioScience, 62, 503–507.

Tallis, H., Lester, S.E., Ruckelshaus, M., Plummer, M., McLeod, K., Guerry, A., Andelman, S., Caldwell, M.R., Conte, M., Copps, S., Fox, D., Fujita, R., Gaines, S.D., Gelfenbaum, G., Gold, B., Kareiva, P., Kim, C., Lee, K., Papenfus, M., Redman, S., Silliman, B., Wainger, L. & White, C. (2012). New metrics for managing and sustaining the ocean’s bounty. Marine Policy, 36, 303–306.

Tallis, H., Mooney, H., Andelman, S., Balvanera, P., Cramer, W., Karp, D., Polasky, S., Reyers, B., Ricketts, T., Running, S., Thonicke, K., Tietjen, B. & Walz, A. (2012). A global system for monitoring ecosystem service change. BioScience, 62, 977–986.

Tallis, H., Polasky, S., Lozano, J.S. & Wolny, S. (2012). Inclusive wealth accounting for regulating ecosystem services. In: Inclusive Wealth Report 2012: measuring progress toward sustainability. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 195–214.


Lester, S.E., McLeod, K.L., Tallis, H., Ruckelshaus, M., Halpern, B.S., Levin, P.S., Chavez, F.P., Pomeroy, C., McCay, B.J., Costello, C., Gaines, S.D., Mace, A.J., Barth, J.A., Fluharty, D.L. & Parrish, J.K. (2010). Science in support of ecosystem-based management for the US West Coast and beyond. Biological Conservation, 143, 576–587.

Tallis, H., Levin, P.S., Ruckelshaus, M., Lester, S.E., McLeod, K.L., Fluharty, D.L. & Halpern, B.S. (2010). The many faces of ecosystem-based management: making the process work today in real places. Marine Policy, 34, 340–348.


Fox, H.E., Kareiva, P., Silliman, B., Hitt, J., Lytle, D.A., Halpern, B.S., Hawkes, C.V., Lawler, J., Neel, M., Olden, J.D., Schlaepfer, M.A., Smith, K. & Tallis, H. (2009). Why do we fly? Ecologists’ sins of emission. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7, 294–296.

Goldman, R.L. & Tallis, H. (2009). A critical analysis of ecosystem services as a tool in conservation projects. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1162, 63–78.

Nelson, E., Mendoza, G., Regetz, J., Polasky, S., Tallis, H., Cameron, Dr., Chan, K.M., Daily, G.C., Goldstein, J., Kareiva, P.M., Lonsdorf, E., Naidoo, R., Ricketts, T.H. & Shaw, Mr. (2009). Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7, 4–11.

Tallis, H. (2009). Kelp and rivers subsidize rocky intertidal communities in the Pacific Northwest (USA). MEPS, 389, 85–96.

Tallis, H., Goldman, R., Uhl, M. & Brosi, B. (2009). Integrating conservation and development in the field: implementing ecosystem service projects. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7, 12–20.

Tallis, H.M., Ruesink, J.L., Dumbauld, B., Hacker, S. & Wisehart, L.M. (2009). Oysters and aquaculture practices affect eelgrass density and productivity in a Pacific Northwest estuary. Journal of Shellfish Research, 28, 251–261.

Tallis, H. & Polasky, S. (2009). Mapping and valuing ecosystem services as an approach for conservation and natural-resource management. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1162, 265–283.


Fischer, J., Brosi, B., Daily, G.C., Ehrlich, P.R., Goldman, R., Goldstein, J., Lindenmayer, D.B., Manning, A.D., Mooney, H.A., Pejchar, L., Ranganathan, J. & Tallis, H. (2008). Should agricultural policies encourage land sparing or wildlife-friendly farming? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 6, 380–385.

Goldman, R.L., Tallis, H., Kareiva, P. & Daily, G.C. (2008). Field evidence that ecosystem service projects support biodiversity and diversify options. PNAS, 105, 9445–9448.

Richardson, N.F., Ruesink, J.L., Naeem, S., Hacker, S.D., Tallis, H.M., Dumbauld, B.R. & Wisehart, L.M. (2008). Bacterial abundance and aerobic microbial activity across natural and oyster aquaculture habitats during summer conditions in a northeastern Pacific estuary. Hydrobiologia, 596, 269–278.

Tallis, H., Ferdaña, Z. & Gray, E. (2008). Linking terrestrial and marine conservation planning and threats analysis. Conservation Biology, 22, 120–130.

Tallis, H., Kareiva, P., Marvier, M. & Chang, A. (2008). An ecosystem services framework to support both practical conservation and economic development. PNAS, 105, 9457–9464.


Goldstein J, Tallis H, Linou N, Small R, Huikuri S, Kreis K, Olander L, Ringler C, Jacobs C, Kelso M, Mason S, Zobrist S. (2019). Bigger Change Faster: Integrated Development, Health, and Environment Actions for a Sustainable Future. The Bridge Collaborative and UNDP.

Tallis, H., Huang, C., Herbohn, J., Holl, K., Mukul, S.A., & KAM Morshed. (2019). Creating Opportunities for Rohingya Refugees and Hosts Through Forest Landscape Restoration. CGD Brief. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development.

Tallis, H., Huang, C., Herbohn, J., Holl, K., Mukul, S.A., & KAM Morshed. (2019). Steps Toward Forest Landscape Restoration in The Context of The Rohingya Influx: Creating Opportunities to Advance Environmental, Humanitarian, and Development Progress in Bangladesh. CGD Policy Paper 148. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development.


(2018). Conversations on Planetary Health: The Philanthropic Funding Landscape for Integrating Health and Environment. Panorama and The Bridge Collaborative.


Tallis H, Kreis K, Olander L, Ringler C et al. (2017). Bridge Collaborative Practitioner’s Guide: Principles and Guidance for Cross-sector Action Planning and Evidence Evaluation. Washington DC: The Nature Conservancy.

Tallis H, Polasky S, Shyamsundar P, Springer N, Ahuja V, Cummins J, Datta I, Dixon J, Gerard B, Ginn W, Gupta R, Jadhav A, Jat ML, Keil A, Krish- napriya PP, Ladha JK, Nandrajog S, Paul S, Lopez Ridaura S, Ritter A, Sidhu HS, Skiba N, Somanathan R. (2017). The Evergreen Revolution: Six ways to empower India’s no-burn agricultural future. University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN; The Nature Conservancy, Washington, DC; International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Mexico; and Bor- laug Institute for South Asia, Ludhiana, India.


Tallis H, Polasky S, Biske R, DeGeus D, Dell R, Doane M, Downes L, Goldstein J, Hodgman T, Johnson K, Luby I, Pennington D, Reuter M, Segerson K, Stark I, Stark J, Vollmer-Sanders C, Weaver SK. (2016). Financing Change: Five bold ways to revive the Dead Zone and rebuild soils. The University of Minnesota, St. Paul, and The Nature Conservancy, Washington, DC.