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Videos: ScienceFest at The Nature Conservancy

ScienceFest, a two-day series of short science talks and debates by The Nature Conservancy and partner scientists, was held at the Worldwide Office in Arlington, VA on November 26 and 27. The presentations focused on some of TNC's and our partners' latest cutting-edge science in the service of conservation.

Tim Boucher - Where the Grasslands are Greener: Measuring Grassland Conservation Benefits for People and Nature. A global search of grassland projects with even anecdotal evidence of benefits to nature and people led us to a German-government funded grasslands conservation project in Mongolia that ended in 2008. In 2011, a TNC team measured the ecological and socioeconomic changes driven by the project; we report here on those changes and the success factors others could replicate.

Dick Cameron - Energy, Climate, Transportation and Conservation in California. From the siting of solar and wind power facilities in the Mojave Desert to helping urban counties align land use with the goals of the state's climate cap, TNC-California is at the cutting edge of meshing conservation with energy and climate planning in the United States. Get a short tour of this innovative work, including a look at how we are influencing transportation planning in the Bay Area.

Debate - Does Industrial Logging Have a Place in Tropical Forest Conservation? Can commercial logging be a force for large-scale tropical forest conservation outcomes through forest certification and REDD+? Or is community forestry the only answer, and the idea that industrial-scale logging could help save tropical forests like the fox convincing the chickens to go for a nighttime stroll in the deep, dark woods? Jack Putz of the University of Florida and Barbara Zimmerman, director of the Kayapo Project of the International Conservation Fund of Canada, present on the science, debate the issues and take your questions.

Joe Fargione - Peak Land: What's Left After the Population Bomb Detonates. Humanity’s globally expanding use of land – for ongoing development and increasing demand for food, fiber, and energy – comes at the expense of natural habitat. If not halted, this expanding land use will inevitably outstrip the Earth’s capacity to sustainably support people and nature. How can we help land use peak before we run out of nature? Will anything be left after the population bomb detonates?

Jon Fisher - Has Ecoregional Planning Impacted Land Acquisition at TNC? An analysis of the relationship between TNC's priority areas and acquisitions revealed that our acquisitions mostly align well with priority areas, but that they aligned almost as well before priority areas were defined. One major complicating factor is poor data quality which makes it difficult for TNC to analyze and describe the work that we are best known for.

Evan Girvetz - A Rainer but Drier Future? Why Much of the World Faces this Climate Change Planning Paradox. Much of the world is projected in the future to have increasing arid conditions across much of the earth due to increased temperatures, even in the face of precipitation increasing precipitation. I will show you how this climate change paradox of rainier but drier conditions is projected to occur over 30% of the world, where future planning will need to account for both increased flood and increased drought conditions. I will demonstrate how the Climate Wizard can be used to understand these rainier and drier conditions across the different ecoregions of the world.

Judy Haner - Making the Case for Large-Scale Restoration in Alabama: Linking Science, Communities and Dollars. The Conservancy and our partners have worked to dramatically increase the scale of oyster reef restoration in Alabama. By scaling-up demonstration projects, we have used science-based approaches to engage new partners and inspire a vision of how shellfish restoration can address the challenges of coastal restoration and community resilience, while boosting local economies of national importance in the short and long term.

Jeanette Howard - SalmonScape: Success through Strategy-Specific Streamlining. To effect salmon conservation at scale--as with all our planning efforts--we need to identify priority populations, issues that compromise their viability, and solutions to address those problems. Key to these efforts is knowing where the best return-on-investment exists for implementing strategies. SalmonScape’s “strategy specific” analytical approach represents an innovative planning method to help streamline conservation decision-making and improve the return on investment of always limited conservation resources.

Jane Carter Ingram (WCS) - Lessons Learned and Ways Forward in Implementing Payments for Ecosystem Service to Support Wildlife Conservation and Rural Livelihoods. The Wildlife Conservation Society has developed multiple Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) projects around the world in recent years. This presentation will describe some of the lessons learned on the ecological, economic, and political factors that influence success/failure of PES mechanisms and will discuss how we are building on this body of knowledge to scale-up efforts aimed at integrating conservation and economic development.

Peter Kareiva - Resilience. If you lean towards pessimism and a doomsday flavor of conservation, you likely think of nature as fragile – fragile rainforest, fragile coral reefs...fragile, fragile, fragile. If you lean towards optimism and a progressive view of technology, you tend to think we humans will cleverly figure it all out and nature can recover if we do damage it. In tribute to Nate Silver: data matters. I present a resilience index that can be applied to field studies and use it to suggest a path forward with respect to resilience that is science as opposed to storytelling and opinion.

Rob McDonald - Climate Change, Ecosystem Services and the World's 200 Biggest Cities. Where do the world's 200 biggest cities get their water--and how will climate change affect those cities' water supplies? Learn how an international team of scientists, inside and outside TNC, has assembled to map the answers to just these questions. The effort will also seek to estimate the economic value of freshwater ecosystem services to these cities, providing information of use to TNC as we make strategic decisions about where to try to expand the water fund strategy.

Jensen Montambault - The Easement Bubble: Will Successor Landholders Bankrupt Conservation? Conservation easements, particularly those granted in perpetuity, pose an unknown long-term risk to land trusts and conservation organization in terms of monitoring and enforcement costs, especially as easements age and the land eventually transfers from original to successor owners. We analyzed 7 years of monitoring data from all easements held by The Nature Conservancy and found that, indeed, as easements change hands and/or are sub-divided they are much more likely to be in violation of their terms than their counterparts that remain under original ownership. These findings may have serious implications for how, when and whether we should continue to buy easements and how we will pay for increasing costs of enforcing an aging portfolio.

Jeff Opperman - The Dams and the Fishes: Pursuing More Optimal Outcomes Through Hydropower by Design. Hydropower is a low-carbon source of energy but can also have dramatic negative impacts on river ecosystems and their services, such as fisheries. Because hydropower dams are proliferating rapidly around the world, the Conservancy is now developing the science to support more optimal outcomes between energy and river ecosystems. Called “hydropower by design,” this approach applies various tools to evaluate the tradeoffs between different spatial arrangements of dams and identify the set of dams that can achieve a given energy objective for the lowest impact.

Heather Tallis - Who Wins, Who Loses? Keeping Track of Ecosystem Service Beneficiaries in Permitting a Peruvian Road. The Natural Capital Project has been developing the first standard, transferable approach for including nature's benefits in permitting and mitigation assessments. Here we will show results of how, in a new case in the Peruvian Amazon, we address social equity of permitting and mitigation options for a proposed road.

Stephanie Wear - The Secret to Coral Reef Conservation. Stephanie will share her experiences from her early days in coral reef conservation, what the Conservancy is doing next to tackle big problems, and why she sees hope where others see a disappearing reef.​​