1974 The network of natural heritage programs is launched by The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with state partners. South Carolina and Mississippi are the initial states.
1974 The first natural heritage methodology training course is held, with one student (Tom Kohlsaat of South Carolina). There have since been well more than 100 such courses, and the number of scientists trained exceeds 1,500.
1979 Future natural heritage program botanist Milo Pyne rediscovers an unusual plant restricted to the limestone cedar glades of central Tennessee. Later determined to be a new species, Pyne’s ground-plum, the plant is federally listed as endangered in 1991. It is one of hundreds of similar discoveries by natural heritage biologists.
1983 The network expands to Latin America with the launch of conservation data centers in Peru and Puerto Rico.
1988 The network expands to Canada as Quebec becomes the first provincial conservation data center.
1989 Alaska becomes the 50th state natural heritage program.
1993 Publication of Perspectives on Species Imperilment, analyzing the role of federal lands in sustaining threatened and endangered species. The report is the first time that data are compiled from all U.S. natural heritage programs to give a national perspective.
1994 The network of natural heritage programs forms a membership association to work together on projects of common interest: the Association for Biodiversity Information (ABI). At this point, the network includes 590 staff and responds to 65,000 data requests annually.
1994 The Biological and Conservation Data System, used by the network to manage its biodiversity data, receives the prestigious ComputerWorld/Smithsonian Award for innovative applications of technology in the service of society.
1995 The National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey begin using NatureServe’s ecological classification to map ecosystems at national parks. Work has been done at more than 100 parks, including Yosemite, Acadia, and the Great Smoky Mountains.
1996 Publication of America’s Least Wanted highlights the threat to biodiversity posed by invasive species.
1997 The U.S. government adopts NatureServe’s ecological classification system as the national standard for use by federal agencies.
1997-98 In searches for animals and plants that are missing and suspected to be extinct, natural heritage biologists rediscover 16 species, including the golden pebblesnail in Tennessee, Crandall’s wild hollyhock in Colorado, and the sea beach firefly in Delaware. Sadly, they also document others as probably now extinct, such as the Oregon popcornflower.
1998 Publication of Rivers of Life documents the importance and imperilment of freshwater biodiversity and leads to intensified conservation action.
1999 Through an agreement with The Nature Conservancy, ABI expands and assumes responsibility for the scientific databases, information, and tools developed by TNC in support of the network of natural heritage programs.
2000 Publication of Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States by Oxford University Press. The book culminates a quarter-century of field work, research, and analysis by natural heritage programs. It is hailed by the journal Science as “the most comprehensive look yet at the United States’ creatures, plants, and biomes.”
2000 NatureServe Explorer is launched, giving the public access for the first time to NatureServe’s vast databases on U.S and Canadian species and ecosystems. InfoNatura, a companion resource for Latin American and Caribbean species, follows in 2001.
2001 ABI changes its name to NatureServe and adopts the butterfly logo—a symbol of the remarkable diversity of life.
2002 Biotics 4 software released—the eighth generation of NatureServe’s powerful biodiversity data management system.
2002 The Sustainable Forestry Initiative adopts NatureServe conservation status assessments as a key part of its biodiversity standards, contributing to the protection of imperiled species and ecosystems found on 100 million acres of timber company forestlands.
2003 Publication of Ecological Systems of the United States, a major step in understanding the nation’s ecosystems. Also published is the companion report on Latin America and the Caribbean, identifying 700 habitat types in the region.
2003 In a report to the United Nations Environment Programme, conservation data centers in Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay identify five as-yet unprotected areas of global importance in the Andes.
2004 NatureServe joins with partners IUCN and Conservation International to produce the Global Amphibian Assessment, the first comprehensive assessment of the distribution and conservation status of the world’s nearly 6,000 amphibian. The eye-opening finding that one in three amphibians is threatened with extinction draws worldwide media coverage.
2005 Publication of the report Our Home and Native Land, providing the first-ever comprehensive analysis of Canadian species in a global context. The study finds that just 6.4 percent of Canada’s plant and animal species are of global conservation concern, meaning that Canada still has the opportunity to protect intact nearly its full diversity of native wildlife.
2005 NatureServe collaborates with NOAA to develop and publish a comprehensive framework for classifying the coastal and marine systems of North America.
2005 Four years of software development work, with major funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, culminates in the release of NatureServe Vista, a GIS-based decision-support software application that helps people to better integrate biodiversity into their land use and conservation planning efforts.
2006 A study published in the journal Nature provides the first clear proof that global warming is causing disease outbreaks that lead to extinctions of tropical frogs. NatureServe facilitated the research through its leadership of RANA, the Research and Analysis Network for Neotropical Amphibians.
2006 NatureServe launches a web services system to deliver biodiversity data more efficiently over the Internet. Data users can now directly query and download the biodiversity data holdings of NatureServe and our member programs.
2006 Mary L. Klein is named the new President and CEO of NatureServe, replacing Mark Schaefer.
2008 NatureServe partners with National Geographic to launch LandScope America, an innovative web platform that combines interactive, customizable maps with data, stories, photos, and videos about America’s natural places and open spaces.
2013 NatureServe creates a new class of membership and welcomes Bat Conservational International into the Network. As an "associate member," BCI gains access to scientific and technical expertise that will help build a global database for bats, accelerate research, and identify places that house high levels of bat diversity.
2014 The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation names NatureServe as a winner of its prestigious MACEI Award and bestows a $1 million grant that advances NatureServe’s mission on two critical fronts: increasing the organization’s voice in the dialogue over global change and expanding our role as an enabler of “citizen science.”
2014 Instituto Biotrópicos becomes the first Brazilian member of the NatureServe Network.
2016 Mary Klein resigns as President and CEO. Lori Scott serves as Interim CEO.