view of a mountain range under a blue sky
View from Mount Nameless also known as Jarndunmunha © Jan Oakhill

Our science

Science in action

Conservation by Design

For two decades, our work at The Nature Conservancy has been guided by a framework we call Conservation by Design. From the beginning, Conservation by Design has unified our efforts around the world by providing a common language and consistent approach across the diversity of systems, cultures, geographies and communities in which we work.

It has guided us in identifying what to conserve and where and how to conserve it, and in measuring our effectiveness.

Conservation by Design articulates our conservation vision and marries our collaborative, science-based approach with key analytical methods. Around the world, this strategic framework guides TNC and our partners in conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. We seek solutions that will meet the needs of people, as well as species and ecosystems.

The basic concepts of Conservation by Design are simple: set goals and priorities, develop strategies, take action and measure results.

Set goals and priorities

Conservation goals describe the results we want to achieve. Based on the best available scientific information and our sophisticated mapping and planning tools, we set both long-term and near-term goals for conserving the abundance and geographic distribution of critical species and ecological systems. Our overall goal is to ensure the long-term survival of all biodiversity on Earth.

And to make the most effective progress toward our conservation goals, we establish priority targets — those places, threats to biodiversity and strategic opportunities that are most in need of conservation action or promise the greatest conservation return on our investment.

Develop strategies

Guided by those priorities, we then work with a range of partners to design innovative conservation strategies toward meeting our goals. Our strategies reflect not just our understanding of ecology and critical threats to biodiversity, but also our assessment of the social, political and economic forces at play. We seek solutions that will meet the needs of people as well as species and ecosystems.

Take action

The Nature Conservancy is committed to place-based results by taking action locally, regionally and globally. The bulk of our resources — human and financial — are spent executing the strategies we develop together with partners. Our actions are varied and agile, but typically include:

Measure results

We measure our effectiveness by answering two questions: "How is the biodiversity doing?" and "Are our actions having the intended impact?" Tracking progress toward our goals and evaluating the effectiveness of our strategies and actions provide the feedback we need to adjust our goals, priorities and strategies and chart new directions.

Measuring the effect of feral camels on remote desert waterholes
Martu waterhole monitoring in the Little Sandy Desert, WA. Matthew Patterson (KJ) & Eddie Game (TNC) © Tony Jupp

Meeting the challenges of the 21st century

We envision a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfil our needs and enrich our lives.

But as society struggles to provide enough energy, food, water and other resources to sustain a growing population, solutions are often found at nature’s expense. In this century, we will see hard-earned conservation gains erode unless we stabilise the climate and find better ways to meet these increasing resource needs.

  • man standing in green grass

    Meet our conservation staff

    Here in Australia, our team includes highly qualified, experienced and published experts in their fields, so we’re in good hands to achieve our conservation goals. Learn more