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Gretchen Daily in the News

The Natural Capital Project is at the forefront of the movement to align economic forces with conservation. Over the years we have been featured in numerous pieces in the local, national, and international news. Here you will find a selection of recent news articles as well as our latest press releases. For the most up-to date information, you may wish to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.


Articles


How to boost food production but not emissions? Researchers identify key ways
The Christian Science Monitor July 18, 2014

by Noelle Swan

The international agricultural system already produces a hefty share of the world's greenhouse gases, making expansion of food production a delicate balancing act. But it might not be as hard as it seems, researchers say.


How can we feed billions more people?
Newsweek July 17, 2014

by Victoria Bekiempis

One out of every eight people in the world goes hungry. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, which calculated this figure, has also reported that 852 million of these 870 million hungry people live in developing countries. Worse, the world population will likely balloon from its present 7.1 billion to 9.6 billion by 2050. Scientists say this will be coupled with a projected doubling in demand for crops by that same year.


Sizing Down Food Waste: What's the worst thing to toss?
NPR July 17, 2014

by Michaeleen Doucleff

Sometimes I feel like a broken record at home: "Let's eat the leftovers for dinner, so they don't go to waste," But inevitably, Sunday night's pasta and meatballs get tossed out of the refrigerator to make way for Friday night's pizza. Now scientists at the University of Minnesota offer up another reason to put those leftover meatballs in the tummy instead of the garbage: There are hidden calories in the beef that go to waste when you toss it.


Food used to fatten animals could feed 3 billion
NBC News July 17, 2014

by John Roach

If all the food used to fatten up cows, chickens and pigs went straight to people instead, it would feed several billion more people than the food does today, according to a new study. "We've taken 10,000 years to get to the point of growing as much food as we are doing now," said Paul West, a food expert at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. "In the next four decades or so we have to figure out how to double that …. Another thing that is simultaneously occurring is that agriculture has the biggest effect on our environment." Fortunately for meat lovers, completely forgoing burgers, wings, and bacon won't be necessary. But, when weather or disease lays waste to a lot of food, crops traditionally grown for animal feed could serve as a safety valve in times of need, West said. These and a handful of other targeted strategies could provide enough new calories to meet the basic needs for more than 3 billion people, West and colleagues conclude in their paper published Thursday in the journal Science.


Take Nothing but Pictures
Stanford Magazine July/August, 2014

by Hugh Biggar

Sightseeing shutterbugs plus social media provide a snapshot of global tourism.


Crop switch could cost millions in water contamination
MPR News July 10, 2014

by Mark Steil

The number of southeastern Minnesota household wells that are contaminated with potentially dangerous nitrates could increase by nearly 50 percent in coming years, a University of Minnesota study shows.


Deforestation intensifying in Indonesia's carbon-rich wetlands as country faces intense fire season
Climatewire June 30, 2014

by Elizabeth Harball

Trees in Indonesia are disappearing at twice the rate reported by the nation's government, according to a new analysis of deforestation rates. The data also suggests that the nation's 2011 regulations to halt deforestation were largely ineffective, the study authors say.


Resilience by design: water funds for multifunctional landscapes
CGIAR Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog June 6, 2014

by Becky Chaplin-Kramer

Since the Green Revolution, we've been relying heavily on a strategy to control variability in agricultural systems, as we strive to minimize agricultural nuisances such as soil infertility, pest impacts, and inadequate precipitation through the use of chemicals and irrigation. This has won us some major successes in increasing yields, but at high cost to the many other benefits provided in and by agricultural landscapes.


The physics of ocean undertow: Small forces make a big difference in beach erosion
Phys.org May 13, 2014

People standing on a beach often feel the water tugging the sand away from under their feet. This is the undertow, the current that pulls water back into the ocean after a wave breaks on the beach.

Large storms produce strong undertows that can strip beaches of sand. By predicting how undertows interact with shorelines, researchers can build sand dunes and engineer other soft solutions to create more robust and sustainable beaches.


Go Minnesota NatCap!
Eye on Earth May 2, 2014

by Bonnie Keeler

Policy makers, land managers, and other stakeholders confront a dizzying array of environmental decisions. How do we best manage our natural resources? Where should we invest in conservation? Do we need stricter regulation of development or industry? The Natural Capital Project, a core program of the Institute on the Environment, develops innovative tools and approaches to inform these important questions.


Stanford researchers rethink 'natural' habitat for wildlife
Stanford News April 16, 2014

by Rob Jordan

Protecting wildlife while feeding a world population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050 will require a holistic approach to conservation that considers human-altered landscapes such as farmland, according to Stanford researchers.


What happens when there are 9 billion mouths to feed
Marketplace April 16, 2014

Interview by Kai Ryssdal

As it stands right now, the world has a little over 7 billion people. Come 2050, however, that "7" will look more like a "9," and those 2 billion extra mouths could mean disaster for the planet's already-strained resources. Jonathan Foley wrote the cover story for the May issue of National Geographic magazine, kicking off an eight-month series on food and sustainability. In his words: "We've got to get more value out of agriculture.We need to figure out how to feed a growing and more prosperous world, but we also have to figure out how to make it more sustainable."


Feeding 9 Billion: A five step plan to feed the world
National Geographic Magazine April 2014

by Jon Foley. Photographs by George Steinmetz and Jim Richardson

It doesn't have to be factory farms versus small, organic ones. There's another way. When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.


Networking Nature: How Technology Is Transforming Conservation
Foreign Affairs March/April 2014

by Jon Hoekstra

Conservation is for the first time beginning to operate at the pace and on the scale necessary to keep up with, and even get ahead of, the planet's most intractable environmental challenges. New technologies have given conservationists abilities that would have seemed like super powers just a few years ago. We can now monitor entire ecosystems -- think of the Amazon rainforest -- in nearly real time, using remote sensors to map their three-dimensional structures; satellite communications to follow elusive creatures, such as the jaguar and the puma; and smartphones to report illegal logging.


Heinz Award honor 5 for innovative work
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 25, 2014

by Joyce Gannon

The winners of this year's Heinz Awards range from a best-selling fiction author who also teaches medicine at Stanford University, to a 31-year-old entrepreneur who uses technology to train workers in remote and impoverished locations.


A Leading Analyst of Global Food Solutions Gets a Deserved Honor
The New York Times Dot Earth Blog February 25, 2014

by Andrew C. Revkin

I can't find an unjustified line in the Heinz Award citation for Jonathan Foley, the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. An excerpt is below, along with links to background on the four other winners of this annual prize, which honors the memory of Senator John Heinz and is given to people improving the human condition and environment through work in areas ranging from poverty alleviation to the arts and sciences.


Mapping Nature's Value: How do Belize's coastal ecosystems touch human lives?
World Wildlife Magazine Spring 2014

Can understanding lobster fisheries, tourism and coastal defense help Belize chart a smarter course?


Preserving nature isn't about aesthetics. It's about necessity.
Ensia January 15th, 2014

by Jonathan Foley

Some "post-environmentalists" want to embrace the bold new world of the Anthropocene — but can we afford to let the Holocene go?


Efforts to curb unbridled growth that's killing the planet
San Francisco Chronicle January 4th, 2014

by Carolyn Lochhead

Fresh-faced tech millionaires snap up glitzy new condos in San Francisco. Across America, construction is up and unemployment is down. Consumers are buying. The economy is growing. Yet instead of applause, voices from across the political spectrum - Berkeley activists and Beltway conservatives, Pope Francis and even some corporate CEOs - offer a critique of economic growth and its harm to the well-being of humans and the planet.


How we can use nature to fend off flooding in Puget Sound
Seattle Times Op-ed December 12th, 2013

by Michael S. Stevens and Mary Ruckelshaus

Something is happening in our river valleys, on fertile farmlands and along our shorelines. Record floods and tides make clear that something has changed. "We're sitting here on the pointy end of the pineapple express," says Jay Gordon, a third-generation farmer on the Chehalis River and executive director of the Washington State Dairy Federation. "The climate-change theory that we're going to see more rain and more floods — it's not a theory. We're living it."


How Important Is A Bee?
NPR - Krulwich Wonders December 6th, 2013

by Robert Krulwich

This is an alarming story, not because it ends badly. It's alarming because it ends well. It shouldn't have, but it did, and biologists (and especially conservationists) now have a puzzle to ponder. The story begins in central China, in an apple-growing region called Maoxian County, near the city of Chengdu. In the mid-1990s, the bees that regularly showed up there every spring suddenly didn't. Apple farmers, obviously, need bees. Bees dust their way through blossoms, moving from flower to flower, pollinating, which helps produce apples in September. What happened to the bees?


Gaza Need Not Be a Sewer
The New York Times December 2nd, 2013

Op-Ed by NatCap Visiting Scholar ALON TAL and YOUSEF ABU-MAYLA

For two decades, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists set aside their differences to call for urgent measures to address the impending water crisis in the Gaza Strip. These calls went unheeded. The price of inaction, protracted conflict and unsustainable policies is being paid today by the 1.7 million residents of Gaza, who face catastrophic conditions thanks to the collapse of Gaza's sewage system.


Moving Beyond GDP
Huffington Post November 26th, 2013

by Sean McElwee

The 2007 economic crisis and the lingering stagnation it wrought has lead economists, philosophers and policymakers to a profound rethinking of how we measure economic performance and social progress. As Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen and Jean-Paul Fitoussi write in the forward to their book, Mismeasuring Our Lives, during the run-up to the 2007 crisis, "the seemingly strong performance of some countries prior to the crisis (as predicted by GDP) was not sustainable and was based on "bubble" prices that exaggerated profits and output."


The world's new megacities must be the drivers of the 'smart' water revolution
The Guardian December 12th, 2013

by Giulio Boccaletti

As cities grow to tens of millions strong, accelerated urbanisation coupled with concerns for water security is energising the "smart" water tech market


Who Is Conservation For?
The Chronicle of Higher Education November 10th, 2013

by Paul Voosen

Once, Gretchen Daily only had eyes for the rain forest. Eighteen years ago, as a young scientist on the rise, Daily arrived at a renowned research station in the hills of Costa Rica armed with nearly 100 shellacked plywood platforms. As a student at Stanford University, studying under the famed biologist Paul Ehrlich, she had seen how large birds, defying expectations, seemed to thrive on small bits of forest spackled in the area's coffee plantations, when theory predicted their demise. On her return, she planned to spread her feeding platforms in staggered densities to test that observation; local kids promised to monitor the mesitas.


Innovation Earth: Green Bus To The Rescue
Huffington Post October 22nd, 2013

by Jennifer Grayson

Next Tuesday, it will have been one year since the monstrous Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, killing 117 people in the U.S., destroying thousands of homes and wreaking $65 billion in damage. And while this year's hurricane season has been thankfully quiet so far, it does have some now questioning global warming's role in all of this; that is, whether climate change will actually increase, or decrease, the likelihood of Superstorm Sandy-type storms.


Vacation pics mined for vital data: Who went where, when?
NBC News October 18th, 2013

by Devin Coldewey

Those pictures of Yellowstone you uploaded to Flickr are doing more than delighting your friends and family — big data scientists are mining the photo website for data that reveals visitation patterns of natural attractions.


Scientists Making Good Use of Those Vacation Photos You Posted Online
Stanford News October 18th, 2013

by Elizabeth Rauer

Scientists use social media – vacation photos from Flickr – to study how people use natural areas for tourism and recreation.


Overpopulation Is Still the Problem
Huffington Post September 27th, 2013

by NatCap Visiting Scholar Alon Tal

Overpopulation remains the leading driver of hunger, desertification, species depletion and a range of social maladies across the planet. Recently, a spate of op-ed essays have filled the pages of some of world's top newspapers and blogs -- from the Guardian to the New York Times -- challenged this view, declaring that overpopulations is not, nor has ever been, a problem. To make progress in the most recent round of the age-old debate between technological optimists and Malthusian realists, it's important to establish criteria and characterize consequences.


Pest-eating birds mean money for coffee growers, Stanford biologists find
Stanford News September 3rd, 2013

by Bjorn Carey

This is the first time scientists have assigned a monetary value to the pest-control benefits rainforest can provide to agriculture. Their study could provide the framework for pest management that helps both farmers and biodiversity.


The Triple Bottom Line and the Wealth of Nations
USA Today September 16th, 2013

by Andrew Burger

While there are thousands of organizations working to solve the world's problems, the ways these groups operate and measure success differ markedly. Perhaps these differences could be overcome if local public interest and community development groups were to use similar metrics, tools and methodologies to support their efforts and realize their aims?


Is Conservation Extinct?
Ensia July 22nd, 2013

by Hillary Rosner

Conservationists are used to justifying their work. Since the movement first took shape in the 1800s, they've provided a litany of contemporary arguments for conserving the natural world, from economic (protecting forests for wood) to spiritual (preserving places that stir the soul) to scientific (safeguarding biological systems). But lately they've been wrestling internally with another fundamental question about their task: not why we should save nature, but what exactly we should save and how we should save it. Against a backdrop of growing global resource demand and climate change — as well as emerging technologies, such as synthetic biology — that are wreaking philosophical havoc, finding the answers is urgent.

China's clean-water program benefits people and the environment, Stanford research shows
USA Today July 14th, 2013

by Bjorn Carey

Rice farming near Beijing has contaminated and tapped the city's drinking water supply. For the past four years, China has been paying farmers to grow corn instead of rice, an effort that Stanford research shows is paying off for people and the environment.



Dunes, reefs protect U.S. coasts from climate change
USA Today July 14th, 2013

by Wendy Koch

Rising sea levels and extreme weather put 16% of U.S. coastlines at "high-hazard" risk and the number of threatened residents could double if natural habitats -- sand dunes, coral reefs, sea grasses, mangroves -- aren't protected, Stanford University researchers say in a study today.


An Eco-Friendly Solution to Coastal Hazards
TIME July 15th, 2013

by Eliana Dockterman

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a study suggests that conservation can protect potential storm victims. Unfortunately for America's coastal cities, Superstorm Sandy was not an aberration. The storm that left so many Northeasterners stranded in flooded homes without electricity was just the first of many to be expected as sea levels continue to rise due to climate change. Cities are constructing plans to protect themselves from future storms—Mayor Michael Bloomberg released his strategy for New York City to the tune of $20 billion this month—scientists, engineers and politicians are seeking out innovative ways to protect our coastlines. A new study suggests that conservation of our ecosystems may be the answer.


New Map Shows Where Nature Protects U.S. Coast
National Geographic July 14th, 2013

by Brian Handwek

Real estate is all about location, and coastal reefs and wetlands now look like especially attractive neighbors. Americans looking to buy seaside property would do well to study the first-ever nationwide map showing how and where natural habitats like reefs and vegetation best protect coastal residents from rising seas and catastrophic storms like last year's Hurricane Sandy.


Natural defences can sharply limit coastal damage
NATURE News July 14th, 2013

by Virginia Gewin

Reefs, dunes and marshes are key to protecting lives and property against storm surges and long-term sea-level rise. Coastal forests, coral reefs, sand dunes and wetlands are just a few of the natural habitats that protect two-thirds of of the US coastline from hazards such as hurricane storm surges — shielding not only high-value properties in New York and California but also the poor in Texas and the elderly in Florida.


Saving coastal habitats may help cut cost of storm damage
San Francisco Chronicle July 14th, 2013

by David Perlman

Floods and violent storms along America's coasts will cost billions in lost homes and threaten countless people as sea levels continue rising, but saving natural barriers like sand dunes, coastal bluffs and even kelp forests could cut those losses by half, a Stanford-based study maintains.


How the Bay's Natural Buffers Can Help Defend Us From Sea Level Rise Read or Listen
KQED / NPR July 16th, 2013

blog by Molly Samuel, on-air interview by Stephanie Martin

When it comes to protecting people and property from rising sea levels and catastrophic storms, it turns out that nature can often provide a better solution than an expensive engineering project.


Unexpected ally against future hurricanes: nature?
The Christian Science Monitor July 15th, 2013

by Liz Fuller-Wright

Mother Nature might provide the best defense against rising sea levels and ever-larger hurricane storm surges, says a new study published in this week's "Nature: Climate Change."


Losing natural buffers could double the number of people exposed to hurricanes
ClimateWire July 15th, 2013

by Evan Lehmann

If the United States lost its shield of natural coastal defenses, about twice as many Americans would be exposed to dangerous storm surges and other hurricane threats, according to new research. Protective buffers like mangroves, wetlands and oyster beds currently buffer about 67 percent of the nation's seashores from ocean forces like wind and waves. If they disappear, more than a million additional people and billions of dollars in property value will be vulnerable to damage, says a paper published yesterday in the journal Nature Climate Change.


New Study: Coastal Nature Reduces Risk from Storm Impacts for 1.3 Million U.S. Residents
TNC Cool Green Science July 15th, 2013

by Evan Lehmann

Katrina, Sandy, Andrew: iconic names….and indelible examples of how nature can kill and destroy. But could nature actually help reduce our risk from…nature? Specifically: could sand dunes, oyster and coral reefs, sea grasses and other coastal natural habitats blunt the effects of coastal storms — like surges and flooding? Could they even reduce the risk of fatalities and property loss from such storms? They already are — for at least 1.3 million people and billions in property value along the U.S. coastline, according to a new study just published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Neglecting those habitats, the study adds, could double the number of U.S. residents at "high hazard risk" from storms — including hundreds of thousands of poor and elderly.


Reefs and Dunes Play Critical Roles in safeguarding Lives in US Coastal Regions
French Tribune July 15th, 2013

by Bruce Totolos

When rising sea levels and excessive weather conditions have already put 16% of U. S. coastlines at "high-hazard" risk; in a recent study carried out by researchers of Stanford University it has been found that if natural habitats like sand dunes, sea grasses, coral reefs, and mangroves aren't protected, it would threatened twice the number of residents here.


The Best Defense Against Catastrophic Storms: Mother Nature
Stanford News July 15th, 2013

by Elizabeth Rauer

Natural habitats such as dunes and reefs are critical to protecting millions of U.S. residents and billions of dollars in property from coastal storms, according to a new study by scientists with the Natural Capital Project at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, offers the first comprehensive map of the entire U.S. coastline that shows where and how much protection communities get from natural habitats such as sand dunes, coral reefs, sea grasses and mangroves.


Diverse Introspectives: A Conversation with Peter Kareiva
BioDiverse Perspectives May 14th, 2013

by Hillary Burgess

On May 7th, fellow UW grad student Halley Froelich and I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Peter Kareiva, chief scientist and director of science for The Nature Conservancy for our inaugural installment of Diverse Introspectives: Interviews from Visiting Scholars and Seminar Speakers. Dr. Kareiva joined The Nature Conservancy in 2002, where his projects focus on the interplay of human land-use and biodiversity, resilience in the face of global change, and marine conservation. His academic achievements include over 100 publications spanning a broad range of topics and membership to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is known for a willingness to challenge paradigms and encourages members of our field to think critically about the purpose of our science and how to communicate it to the public. These themes ran through our conversation as we discussed the pitfalls of a single-minded focus on biodiversity, his hopes for the future of our field, strategies for advocacy, and the promise of citizen science.


Resource Strain Pushes Coca-Cola, Dow to Put Price Tags on Nature
Bloomberg News May 9, 2013

by Avery Fellow

Twenty-four companies agreed at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 to develop a methodology for natural capital accounting.To determine the value of natural resources, partnerships like the Natural Capital Project have developed accounting methods, said Mary Ruckelshaus, the project's managing director. Dow, Coca-Cola, and other companies use these methods to make decisions about natural capital.


Tapped Out: How Will Cities Secure Their Water Future?
National Geographic May 8, 2013

by Brian Richter

Today, global demands for food, energy, and shelter are putting unprecedented pressure on the resources of the planet. Water is at the heart of this crisis. In fact, more than half of the world's cities are already experiencing water shortages on a recurring basis – based on findings from a study that I published, along with 13 of my colleagues, this week in the Water Policy journal. These water-stressed cities are finding it extremely difficult and expensive to secure the additional water supplies needed to support their growth.


Why and How Conservation Needs to Tackle Human Well-Being: A Q&A with Heather Tallis
Science Chronicles | Conservation Gateway May 2013

by Bob Lalasz

Can conservation make a decisive and systematic contribution to solving social problems and improving the lives of people — especially the world's poor? Finding out is Heather Tallis's job: As a new lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy in charge of the Conservancy's new Human Dimensions Program, it's her task to bring "people metrics" to assess the impact of the Conservancy's work on the ground on people. She's also charged with integrating innovative economics and social science into the organization's field work in a way that builds conservation methods and tools that can benefit everyone.


True Natural Capital
On Balance | WWF Blog April 30th, 2013

by Nick Conger

Scanning the busy agenda for this week's Fortune Brainstorm Green, I'm struck by the opening and closing sessions of the first day. Focusing these highly visible sessions on the economics of conservation is telling. Indeed, how businesses, financial institutions and governments account for nature as a material asset has become the hottest sustainability topic of 2013.


Wild Pollinators Are Critical to Keeping Our Picnic Baskets Full
Huffington Post Green Blog April 18th, 2013

by Christina Kennedy, Senior Scientist of The Nature Conservancy's Development by Design program

Bees may seem like uninvited guests at your picnic -- but before you shoo them away from the fruit salad, think twice, as they play a critical role in making your picnic possible.


Dialogues on the Environment: Q&A With Gretchen Daily
Huffington Post Green Blog April 17st, 2013

by Mark Tercek, President & CEO of The Nature Conservancy

Since joining The Nature Conservancy, and over the course of writing Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature, I've been fortunate to benefit from the perspectives and advice of many leaders of the environmental community. To continue the conversation on the ideas in Nature's Fortune, I recently spoke with leading conservationists, CEOs, scientists, academics and activists about the environmental movement -- what's working well, what we could do better and what they see as the biggest challenges and opportunities ahead.


Q&A: Gretchen Daily, ecologist, on quantifying nature's value
SmartPlanet April 1st, 2013

by Laura Shin

Most of us think of nature as being free, or priceless. Yet, recent disasters like Superstorm Sandy show just how valuable nature is, such as for protecting coastal communities from inundation. Can we quantify nature's value in ways that help us make important decisions?


If Money Talks, Maybe It's Time to Give Ecosystems a Voice
Earth Island Journal March 28, 2013

by Alex Johnson

As traditional conservation methods fail to staunch biodiversity loss, some conservationists are embracing the idea of "ecosystems services"


Conservation in the Anthropocene - Beyond Solitude and Fragility
Breakthrough.org Winter 2012

by Peter Kareiva, Michelle Marvier, and Robert Lalasz

y its own measures, conservation is failing. Biodiversity on Earth continues its rapid decline.1 We continue to lose forests in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.2 There are so few wild tigers and apes that they will be lost forever if current trends continue.3 Simply put, we are losing many more special places and species than we're saving.


Scientists See Big Impacts on U.S. Ecosystems from Global Warming
Dot Earth - New York Times December 19, 2012

by ANDREW C. REVKIN

A new analysis by dozens of scientists provides a useful update on measured and anticipated impacts of human-driven climate change on ecosystems from western forests to coastal waters. The report, "Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services," is one of a suite of studies feeding into what will be the third National Climate Assessment, an overarching analysis of impacts on everything from transportation systems to public health.


Global warming likely to result in net loss of biodiversity
Summit Voice December 19, 2012

by Bob Berwyn

A major new report suggests that climate change will probably result in a net loss in global biodiversity, as plants and animal species shift their geographic ranges and the timing of their life events — such as flowering, laying eggs or migrating — at faster rates than researchers documented just a few years ago.


Gretchen Daily: What Is Nature Worth?
Ensia December 3rd, 2012

by Mary Hoff

What is nature worth? From one perspective, it's priceless. From another, it's not only valuable, but value-able as well. Stanford University conservation biologist Gretchen Daily, who gave wings to the concept of ecosystem services in the 1990s, is working around the world to help policymakers recognize the economic worth of the benefits nature provides.


Standardized Science for Secure Water
Science Chronicles August 6th, 2012

by Heather Tallis and Adrian Vogl

Water funds are taking off like a wildfire in Latin America. But like a wildfire, they run the risk of burning too hot and too fast to help the ecology (and the people) in the system. The rapid expansion of water funds in latitudes south has presented some challenges for The Nature Conservancy and its partners, which are trying to make the most of a potentially great tool for bringing nature's value into the real economy.


Are There Too Many People on the Planet?
Science Chronicles August 6th, 2012

by Peter Kareiva

Before you read any further, please answer the question in the headline. Even better, send me an e-mail at pkareiva@tnc.org giving me your answer and why you answered the question, however you did. Finished? Now read on. I am guessing that a lot of you answered yes. Now let's think this through:


Wonders of a Hopeful World - #7 Water Funds in Latin America
Momentum Fall, 2012

Featuring Heather Tallis and Jon Foley


Open publication - Free publishing - More climate


Global survey reveals routes to boosting crop yields
Nature NewsAugust 29th, 2012

Featuring Nathaniel Mueller and Jon Foley

With 9 billion people expected to be alive in 2050, researchers are running out of time to develop new ways to feed them sustainably. But an analysis published today in Nature suggests that strategies already exist that could shrink the 'yield gap' — which they define as the difference between attainable and actual yields of food crops. Assembling the most comprehensive global data set of crop yields and fertilizer use yet produced, the study authors show that yield increases of 45–70% are possible for most crops through improved nutrient management and increased use of irrigation.


Valuation of natural capital awarded 2012 Volvo Environment Prize
Press release - AB Volvo - September 9th, 2012

Featuring Gretchen Daily

Gretchen Daily, professor at Stanford University in California and one of the world's foremost experts on the valuation of natural capital is awarded the 2012 Volvo Environment Prize. She is convinced that the only way to create long-term welfare is to quantify the value of ecosystems.


China Leads March for Green Economy
New Scientist - by Sara Reardon - June 16, 2012

Featuring Gretchen Daily and Peter Kareiva

When appeals to an environmental conscience cannot motivate governments to conserve their natural resources, a swift kick in the wallet may. That's the idea behind a strategy expected to be discussed at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development next week. Gaining traction are projects to quantify the value of "services" provided to us by oceans, forests and other ecosystems, determine the economic hit to a nation once they run out, and then paying would-be consumers to conserve those assets. And, with characteristic pragmatism, China is leading the experiment.


Acounting for Nature's Benefits: The Dollar Value of Ecosystem Services
Environmental Health Perspectives - by David C. Holtzman - April, 2012. Featuring NatCap, InVEST, as well as Gretchen Daily, Peter Kareiva, Taylor Ricketts, and Emily McKenzie of the Natural Capital Project.

Healthy ecosystems provide us with fertile soil, clean water, timber, and food. They reduce the spread of diseases. The protect against flooding. World-wide, they regulate atmospheric concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide. They moderate climate. Without these and other "ecosystem services" we'd all perish.


Myth-busting scientist pushes greens past reliance on 'horror stories'
Greenwire - by Paul Voosen - April 3, 2012
Featuring Peter Kareiva, one of the founders and Directors of the Natural Capital Project

Peter Kareiva had come to answer for his truths.

Settling at the head of a long table ringed by young researchers new to the policy world, Kareiva, chief scientist of the Nature Conservancy, the world's largest environmental organization, cracked open a beer. After a long day mentoring at the group's headquarters, an eight-story box nestled in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, he was ready for some sparring.

The scientists had read Kareiva's recent essay, which takes environmentalists to task. The data couldn't bear out their piety, he wrote. Nature is often resilient, not fragile. There is no wilderness unspoiled by man. Thoreau was a townie. Conservation, by many measures, is failing. If it is to survive, it has to change.


Number Cruncher
OnEarth - by Bruce Barcott - March 21, 2012
Featuring Mary Ruckelshaus, Managing Director of the Natural Capital Project

Environmental policy is something of a family business for Mary Ruckelshaus. Her father, the attorney William Ruckelshaus, became the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, when she was in fourth grade, and returned for a second term in the mid-1980s. "We had a lot of great dinner table discussions," she recalls, but her own interest was in science more than legal policy. A Ph.D. in biology led her to Seattle, where she worked on salmon and orca recovery for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 2010 she became managing director of the Natural Capital Project, an environmental think tank based at Stanford University. Advancing ideas developed by co-founder Gretchen Daily in her groundbreaking books Nature's Services and The New Economy of Nature, the project's team of biologists, economists, data analysts, and legal scholars collaborates with governments and NGOs to fairly value ecosystem services


Belize move to finalize integrated coastal zone management plan
Amandala - by Adele Trapp - January 20th, 2012
Featuring NatCap's Marine InVEST software

The Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) is working on an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan for Belize, which spans 9 zones, and it hopes to complete the plan by March 2012. It wants the public to be involved in another wave of consultations and is extending an invitation for the public to attend a series of community meetings before the plan is finally taken to Government for final vetting.


>>Read more news articles that feature The Natural Capital Project


Press Releases


New study shows conversion of grasslands to agriculture in Southeastern Minnesota contributes to groundwater nitrate contamination

University of Minnesota Discover - July 10th, 2014

Research from the University of Minnesota and the Natural Capital Project predicts contaminated wells likely to increase by 45 percent in the near future


World's leading experts to work together to establish a harmonised way to measure and value nature in business

Press Release - July 8th, 2014

London, 8 July 2014 – The Natural Capital Coalition (NCC) is pleased to announce its selection of two consortia to develop what will be known as the Natural Capital Protocol. The Protocol will provide a methodology for businesses across the world to understand the impacts that they have and the extent to which they are dependent on the natural environment, its finite natural resources and functioning ecosystems. It will provide previously invisible, yet crucial, information for business decision-making and risk-management. Proponents of the Natural Capital Protocol see it as a major game-changer in building the business case for sustainability.


New Study: How Nature Defends US Coastlines Against Storm Catastrophes

Press Release - July 14th, 2013

Extreme weather, sea-level rise and degraded coastal ecosystems are placing people and property at greater risk of damage from coastal storms. The likelihood and magnitude of losses may be reduced by intact coastal ecosystems near vulnerable coastal communities.

A new study published in Nature Climate Change by the Natural Capital Project and The Nature Conservancy says that natural habitats are critical to protecting millions of U.S. residents and their property from devastation by coastal storms.


New Software Promotes Nature's Delivery of Clean Water

Stanford News Service - June 14th, 2013

Freshwater is one of the planet's most scarce resources. Demand for it is growing, and climate change threatens its supply. A new, free software tool, the Resource Investment Optimization System (RIOS), could be part of the solution. Using the RIOS approach in Colombia, for example, has improved the return on investment by up to 600 percent over previous approaches to watershed investment.


Redeeming Sins of Omission: Accounting for People in Mitigation

Press Release - February 16th, 2013

Billions of dollars are spent every year on development projects such as mines, energy plants and transportation systems. While most countries require mitigation to offset environmental degradation that results, none requires an explicit accounting of people in these efforts. Scientists at the Natural Capital Project (NatCap), led by Lead Scientist Heather Tallis, have developed a new approach to mitigation and habitat restoration that identifies winners and losers – people who would lose ecosystem services and those who would gain them in these circumstances.


Ecosystem Services in Action: Lessons learned from 20+ engagements around the world

Press Release - February 16th, 2013

Ecosystem services, the benefits people get from nature, sustain and fulfill human life. Many have suggested that an explicit focus on ecosystem services can lead to management choices with better outcomes for people and the ecosystems on which they depend. But compelling evidence of the science of modeling, mapping, and valuing ecosystem services informing real decisions has, to date, been scarce. Dr. Guerry presented that evidence today, in a symposium session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), by showcasing how the Natural Capital Project's use of ecosystem service approaches and tools have been used to inform decisions in diverse contexts worldwide. These contexts include spatial planning, payment for ecosystem services, climate adaptation planning, permitting and mitigation, restoration planning, and corporate risk management.


Open-source software can help find the right space for offshore wind turbines

Press Release - February 15th, 2013

A Stanford economist pitches open-source software for evaluating potential offshore wind turbine sites for optimal energy production and minimal disruption of other marine industry.


Stanford ecologist uses social media data to gauge recreational value of coastal areas

Press Release - February 15th, 2013

A Stanford ecologist advocates using social media data to determine the recreational value of coastal ecosystems in order to better direct conservation efforts and funds.


Emerging Consensus Shows Climate Change Already Having Major Effects on Ecosystems and Species

Press Release - December 18th, 2012

1 Plant and animal species are shifting their geographic ranges and the timing of their life events – such as flowering, laying eggs or migrating – at faster rates than researchers documented just a few years ago, according to a technical report on biodiversity and ecosystems used as scientific input for the 2013 Third National Climate Assessment. The report, Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services, synthesizes the scientific understanding of the way climate change is affecting ecosystems, ecosystem services and the diversity of species, as well as what strategies might be used by natural resource practitioners to decrease current and future risks. More than 60 federal, academic and other scientists, including the lead authors from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Wildlife Federation and Arizona State University in Tempe, authored the assessment.


A Global System to Monitor Nature's Benefits to Society

Press Release - November 16th, 2012

A new paper appearing in the November issue of Bioscience presents a way to monitor ecosystem services on a global scale. The conceptual framework they suggest to do this was envisioned by the GEO BON Ecosystem Services Working Group and designed to integrate national statistics, numerical models, remote sensing, and in situ measurements to regularly track changes in ecosystem services across the globe. Although this may sound overly ambitious, the paper outlines an achievable approach that would fill the pulse-taking role well. Entitled "A Global System for Monitoring Ecosystem Change," the paper was led by Heather Tallis, Lead Scientist at the Natural Capital Project. Its authors present a tangible plan to coordinate, standardize, and broaden access to existing databases that track and monitor the delivery of ecosystem services. Their work contributes to the worldwide effort of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), to improve the availability of information on the global environment.


Green economy approach shows hope for Borneo amidst floundering Rio+20 talks

Press Release - June 21, 2012

The Heart of Borneo (HoB): Investing in Nature for a Green Economy Report is a practical regional guide on how future economic growth can be achieved while protecting the values of ecosystems and biodiversity of the Heart of Borneo - a 220,000km2 treasure trove of unique and often endangered animal and plants species, on the world's third biggest island.


Countries should implement inclusive wealth accounting

Press Release - June 17, 2012

A report released today provides a path forward on how countries can implement inclusive wealth accounting, and illustrates how it could be a better and more comprehensive indicator than GDP to assess the wealth of a country.


35 finance CEOs announce commitment on natural capital at Rio+20

Press Release - June 15, 2012

Financial institutions have for the first time ever committed to integrating natural capital into their business decisions with the unveiling of the 'Natural Capital Declaration' (NCD) at the Rio+20 Summit, a move strongly supported by NatCap and our partner, WWF.




Audio & Video


Watch Balancing Costa Rica's Farming With Preservation with Nature on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.


What is Nature Worth?
The Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota




Marine Planning on the West Coast of Vancouver Island




West Coast Assessment - Introduction




Science and Ecosystem Services in Decision-Making
The Moore Foundation



To Avoid Disaster, Limit Population and Consumption

Read or Listen June 8th, 2012

Rich countries must reduce consumption and the world must limit population to avoid catastrophe. That's the message of Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich. He tells host Steve Curwood that does not mean misery but more time for people and pleasure. (6:10), Director, Natural Capital Project.


Peter Kareiva, an Inconvenient Environmentalist
The New York Times, DotEarth - by Andrew Revkin - April 3, 2012
Featuring Peter Kareiva, one of the founders and Directors of the Natural Capital Project

I encourage you to watch the provocative and important lecture above by Peter Kareiva, the much-lauded chief scientist of the world's biggest environmental group, the Nature Conservancy. The title is "Failed Metaphors and A New Environmentalism for the 21st Century." It's a refreshing call for new approaches from a community stuck on what I've called a "woe is me, shame on you" tune for far too long.


>>See more video and audio featuring The Natural Capital Project


For Journalists

If you are a journalist looking for more information on the Nature Climate Change paper, click here for images or contact elizabeth.rauer@stanford.edu. We will post all of the information we have on our website soon.