How We Use Science

At The Nature Conservancy we want to make sure our work is focused in the right places and on the best actions, that it maximizes conservation returns on the investments we make, and that it will last.

Those are some big goals. How do we make them happen?

With science! We draw from the best available science to:

  • set priorities
  • develop strategies
  • inform land management
  • develop conservation tools
  • measure our effectiveness

Setting priorities with science
The Conservancy uses rigorous, science-based planning to determine where and how to work. We use it to:

  • focus on important landscapes and the species and natural processes that keep those landscapes healthy and functional,
  • identify threats to our priority landscapes and species,
  • develop strategies to respond to threats.

With help from leading scientists, scientific literature and on-the-ground experts, we develop plans that drive our work at all of our flagship sites in Wisconsin including the Door Peninsula, Green Bay watershed, Mukwonago River watershed, the Baraboo Hills, the Northwoods, and the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area.

Science-based land management
Science is fundamental to how we manage our preserves and how we influence land use across larger landscapes. Research on our floodplain restoration sites along the Pecatonica River will inform restoration efforts in this river system and along other rivers in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. Along the Lake Michigan coast, research by a broad array of partners is helping to determine how to maintain clean water in agricultural landscapes.

Measuring effectiveness
Our work wouldn’t be complete without tracking our progress, measuring our results and figuring out how to improve. For example, at Wild Rivers Legacy Forest, field surveys help us gauge the impact of our work on wildlife and forest health. And computer modeling gives us a sneak peek at future forest conservation outcomes, so we can make better decisions today.

Developing conservation tools
The Nature Conservancy translates science into practical tools for use by a broad array of partners, including local governments and conservation practitioners. For example, in the Duck-Pensaukee River watershed of Green Bay, we and our partners have developed a tool that prioritizes wetlands for conservation based on the number and type of services they provide (flood abatement, water quality improvement, wildlife habitat and more).

Partners in science
While we have scientists on staff, we certainly can’t do all this on our own! Global leaders in science on our Wisconsin Board of Trustees help chart our course. In addition, the Conservancy partners with researchers in public agencies and universities across Wisconsin and regionally; the partners involved in our Pecatonica River watershed agricultural project are a good example of the collaborative way we work. These partnerships sometimes lead to close collaboration on specific research projects that shape and drive Conservancy work. We continually seek external science review on our major projects. And we maintain close ties with Wisconsin’s broader scientific community, participating on science panels and committees.


Stay Updated

Learn about the places you love and find out how you can help by signing up for Nature eNews.

I'm already on the list Read our privacy policy

Thank you for joining our online community!

We'll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates, and exciting stories.