The Nature Conservancy's Center for Science and Public Policy in Arizona was created to engage stakeholders and expertise in applied science and policy to develop new information, ideas, and tools that can help solve some of our most pressing challenges affecting people and nature.

Recent Reports

Technology and Trees: Increasing trust and efficiencies in forest restoration (April 2016)

With over two million acres of Arizona’s forests vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire, we must change how we manage forests to reduce this risk. Accelerating the pace and scale of forest restoration treatments to meet this challenge requires new ways of doing business. Today’s forest management requires a collaborative approach between the Forest Service, wood product industries, and organizations like The Nature Conservancy to modernize rules and regulations; test, develop, and use new technology to work smarter and faster at less cost; and forge innovative partnerships that provide the support needed for this transformation. The Nature Conservancy is developing new technology that help harvesters, the Forest Service, and stakeholders meet today’s forest restoration goals. Using satellite and 3D imagery, geographic information systems, and electronic tablets, our efforts show promise in creating efficient, less-costly methods to digitally “mark” trees, prepare sites for treatments, harvest trees, and monitor effects of treatments.

Enduring a decade of drought: Patterns and drivers of vegetation change in a semi-arid grassland (September 2016)

This study used a long-term dataset to examine the impacts of drought on grassland conditions at Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in southeastern Arizona from 2004-2014. Changes included declines in perennial grass basal cover with patchy mortality, leaf litter increases, shrub declines and increases in non-native grass, Lehmann’s Lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana). Grassland cover declined by 25-50% in years with low precipitation from January-June. Given that global climate models predict steep declines in spring rainfall, grassland managers could improve grassland resilience by monitoring rainfall and associated mortality across multiple months, including non-traditional seasons, and by establishing contingency plans for various types of drought. The dataset was developed through a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management with monitoring assistance from stakeholders.

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