Making Mission Impact as Science Advisor to Major Foundations


The use of NatureServe’s science and expertise to inform conservation decisions has taken a significant new turn this year through blossoming strategic relationships with two prominent foundations. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have both sought to apply our data and our analytical skills to provide a scientific basis for evaluating and informing their own strategic investments in biodiversity conservation.

NFWF is a nonprofit conservation foundation that preserves and restores native wildlife species and habitats. Since 1984, the Foundation has awarded more than 10,800 grants for conservation totaling more than $635 million to 3,700-plus organizations in the United States and abroad.

Having embarked on a process to strengthen the scientific underpinnings of their grant programs, NFWF engaged NatureServe to conduct a new wide-ranging series of analyses. The resulting maps have begun to apply the rich data resources of our network to real-world investment decisions, blending established means of mapping threatened species and ecosystems against considerations of cost and opportunity to help NFWF identify the highest-value porgrams for yielding sustainable results.

[MacArthur Foundation logo] Similarly, the John D. and Catherine P. MacArthur Foundation enlisted NatureServe to address its global strategic challenges. In response to theConvention on Biological Diversity’s 2020 targets, NatureServe will work with national and regional biodiversity experts to prototype a global biodiversity “dashboard” and develop initial baseline indicators for MacArthur’s three regions of main investment: the Tropical Andes, the Great Lakes of East and Central Africa, and the Greater Mekong Basin.

In the short term, these collaborations will showcase our expertise and deliver some compelling new syntheses. But by establishing ongoing relationships with highly influential partners relying on NatureServe to support their own adaptive management strategies, these initiatives harbor potential for us to inform and impact the conservation agenda for years to come.