Our Scientists

Eric Hallstein

Eric Hallstein, Ph.D.

Economist and Director of Conservation Investments

Dr. Eric Hallstein, Economist and Director of Conservation Investments, leads the California chapter's work in environmental economics and conservation finance. Also, Eric leads a team that structures and executes investments across a range of sectors, including working forests, rangeland, fishing quota, natural infrastructure and carbon, and manages over 500,000 acres of land and other conservation assets in California.

His work focuses on understanding how to harness financial tools and economic levers and to create solutions that are both good for people and good for the environment. He sees figuring out ways for the diversity of life to co-exist and even thrive on a planet being rapidly transformed by the needs and activities of 7 billion people as one of the great human and environmental challenges of this century.

He is interested in understanding how we go beyond protecting special places to solving big environmental challenges – how can we have healthy oceans and viable fishing businesses? How can farms and ranches provide habitat for wildlife and make a profit, too? And how can we deploy market-based approaches to conservation, and pilot new pathways for using private capital to amplify the impact of our conservation efforts?

Dr. Hallstein's research is in three main areas:

  • Precision conservation. Much of Dr. Hallstein's work at The Nature Conservancy has focused on the use citizen science, remote sensing, and market based mechanisms such as reverse auctions to test whether large scale conservation outcomes could be delivered dynamically, only at the precise place and time needed by ecosystems. See, for example, this article in The New York Times on BirdReturns, a pilot program that pays farmers to create habitat for migratory birds by managing their fields to create temporary wetlands.
  • Market based tools and methods. Beyond precision conservation, Dr. Hallstein is interested in understanding the opportunity and limitations of other forms of market based approaches to conservation, such as using consumer demand for more environmentally sustainable products to transform large, complex supply chains. See, for example, this article on seafood labeling in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.
  • Impact investing. In addition to leading a team tasked with structuring impact investments, Dr. Hallstein is interested in understanding the segmentation, market size, and growth rates of the field of investing in conservation. He is a frequent panelist and speaker at conferences on impact investing. See, for example, this report on Investing in Conservation.

Dr. Hallstein’s work has been featured in a variety of news outlets, including The New York Times, Fast Company, and the Economist.

Before he joined the Conservancy in 2012, he was a principal leading the Energy and Environmental Practice at Imprint Capital Advisors, a financial advisory firm that builds mission-driven investment portfolios for institutional clients and high-net-worth individuals (acquired by Goldman Sachs Asset Management in 2015).

Previously, Dr. Hallstein was a venture capital investor and Kauffman Fellow with Omidyar Network and the CALCEF Clean Energy Fund, an entrepreneur as a founding team member of GoodGuide (acquired by UL Environment in 2012), and a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.

Dr. Hallstein received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow. He holds dual M.S. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Energy and Resources Group. He has an A.B. in East Asian Studies - Japan from Harvard University.

Eric in the News




Alison Johnston, Daniel Fink, Mark D. Reynolds, Wesley M. Hochachka, Brian L. Sullivan, Nicholas E. Bruns, Eric Hallstein, Matt S. Merrifield, Sandi Matsumoto, Steve Kelling, Abundance models improve spatial and temporal prioritization of conservation resources, Ecological Applications, 2015, 25, 7, 1749

Reynolds, Mark D., E. Hallstein, S. Matsumoto, M. Merrifield, S. Kelling, B. Sullivan, D. Fink, J. Fitzpatrick, M. Reiter, S. Veloz, C.M. Hickey, P. Spraycar, G. Golet, C. McColl, S. Morrison. In Review. Crowdsourcing Conservation – using citizen science and market-based approaches to dynamically optimize conservation of migratory species. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution Concepts & Questions.


EKO Asset Management Partners and The Nature Conservancy. Investing in Conservation: A Landscape Assessment of an Emerging Market. November 2014.

Winterson, D., E. Hallstein, and C. Seth. 2014. Can Impact Investing Help Save the Planet? Stanford Social Innovation Review. Fall 2014.


Hallstein, E. and S. B. Villas-Boas, 2013. “Can household consumers save the wild fish? Lessons from a sustainable seafood advisory.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Vol. 66: 52-71.


Hallstein, E. and M. Bannick. 2012. Learning from Silicon Valley: Applying a Venture Capital Model to Philanthropy. Kauffman Fellows Report, Vol. 4.

Bannick, M. and E. Hallstein. 2012. Learning from Silicon Valley: How the Omidyar Network Uses a Venture Capital Model to Measure and Evaluate Effectiveness. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2012.


Hallstein, E. and S. B. Villas-Boas. 2009. Are Consumers Color Blind? An Empirical Investigation of a Traffic Light Advisory for Sustainable Seafood. Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, University of California Berkeley. CUDARE Working Paper 1088.

Hallstein, E. and S. B. Villas-Boas. 2009. Do Consumers Value Sustainable Fishing Practices? Empirical Evidence From a Traffic Light Advisory in a Retail Grocery Chain. Energy and Resources Group, University of California Berkeley. Working paper. For a copy of the working paper, please email Eric.


Srinivasan, U. T., S. P. Carey, E. Hallstein, P. A. T. Higgins, A. C. Kerr, L. E. Koteen, A. B. Smith, R. Watson, J. Harte, and R. B. Norgaard. 2008. The debt of nations and the distribution of ecological impacts from human activities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (5): 1768-1773.


Hanemann, W. M., et al. 2006. Managing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in California. Berkeley: The California Climate Change Center.


Wolff, G. and E. Hallstein. 2005. Beyond Privatization: Restructuring Water Systems to Improve Performance. Oakland: Pacific Institute.

Public Interest

Zimring, Mark, Hallstein, E., Blumberg, L., Kiparsky, M. and Downing, J. New Prospects for Financing Natural Infrastructure. January 2015.


Eric Hallstein and Miller, M. 2014. A Renter's Market: BirdReturns Offers Innovative Conservation. August 6, 2014.

Downing, Jim, L. Blumberg, and E.Hallstein. Reducing Climate Risks with Natural Infrastructure.


Hallstein, E., M. Kiparsky, and A. Short. An orals survival kit. The Chronicle of Higher Education. May 14, 2009.


Kiparsky, M. and E. Hallstein. Being Poor in a ‘Charge It’ Society. The New York Times. February 17, 2008 (Letter).

Eric Hallstein, Ph.D.

Economist and Director of Conservation Investments


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.