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Conserving Nature's Stage:  

Identifying Resilient Terrestrial Landscapes in the PNW

The purpose of this project, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, is to identify the most resilient sites in the Northwest that will collectively and individually best sustain native biodiversity even as the changing climate alters current distribution patterns. The central idea is that by mapping key geophysical features and evaluating them for landscape characteristics that buffer against climate change, we can identify the most resilient places in the landscape in order to guide future conservation investments.  Download a fact sheet here.

The study area in the 2015 report covers 92 million hectares (227 million acres) over portions or all of six states, and includes all of the East Cascades/Modoc Plateau, Columbia Plateau, Middle Rockies/Blue Mtns., West Cascades, Klamath Mtns., CA N Coast, Sierra Nevada Ecoregions and the U.S. portions of the Canadian Rockies, North Cascades, PNW Coast, and Willamette Valley/Puget Trough ecoregions.
This comprehensive final report includes an update covering the four ecoregions in the 2014 report, and describes in detail the methods used and products produced for all 11 ecoregions, including a geodatabase which contains all the spatial data inputs and outputs. 

As part of this project, we:

  • Created a comprehensive map of Geophysical Settings or Land Facets (the "Stage”) using Soils, Elevation, and Slope.
  • Created a comprehensive map of landscape characteristics essential to assessing the resilience of a site by combining local permeability with topoclimate diversity.
  • Assessed Conservancy conservation portfolio sites across the study area to evaluate the adequacy of representation of Land Facets, and also ranked the sites based on the area of terrestrial climate change resilient landscapes (cells) within them.
  • Ranked each land facet within an ecoregion based on levels of protection and conversion, and present these data as a Conservation Risk Index.
  • Using landscape resiliency data, we informed the selection of a new set of conservation sites in the SE Oregon portion of the Columbia Plateau and set the stage for adoption of these methods elsewhere.  The specifics for this SE Oregon update are available in Chapter 8 of the 2014 report.

Visit this site for additional updates in the future, including a regional connectivity analysis across the entire eleven ecoregion study area in mid 2016. 

Visit for information on and current status on our land protection grant opportunities.

For more information on the PNW analyses or regional connectivity, contact Ken Popper, or Brad McRae

For more information on The Nature Conservancy's Resilience work elsewhere, visit the TNC Eastern Division Science Conservation Gateway site


 2015 PNW Report and Data


 Online Mapping


 2015 Maps: High Resolution

All maps are best viewed in Internet Explorer or downloaded for viewing in Acrobat.