Innovations in Science


Conservation International’s cutting-edge research generates insights that transform conservation policy and practice.

Through science, we are discovering and promoting smarter and more effective solutions to some of the most urgent challenges humanity faces.

Our research, tools and solutions help meet ambitious global goals — from protecting critical ecosystems that absorb climate-warming carbon, to securing marine fisheries that sustain us, to promoting conservation-based economies in the areas that matter most for people and nature.

Our science sets conservation priorities, develops solutions that work and mobilizes long-term investments in proven, cost-effective approaches.


Transforming conservation on a global scale

Protecting nature for climate. Conserving oceans on an unprecedented scale. Ensuring that people and nature thrive together. Science is at the heart of Conservation International’s work to protect nature for the benefit of humanity. Our research guides each of our institutional priorities.


Tropical forests, mangroves and other critical ecosystems could account for at least 30 percent of global action needed to avoid the worst climate scenarios. Conservation International’s research identifies the nature that must be protected and restored to avoid a climate catastrophe.

How we protect nature for climate »


With our partners, Conservation International seeks to double the world’s ocean area under conservation by 2025. We use science to create financial and policy incentives for marine conservation. Our research identifies the ocean areas that are most important to protect and helps ensure that conservation efforts are resilient in the face of climate change.

How we conserve our oceans »


Using policy-relevant science, Conservation International promotes conservation models to protect nature and improve human well-being in critical ecosystems around the world. Our research insights and tools catalyze conservation initiatives by a wide range of partners — from governments and corporations to local communities.

How we pilot nature-positive economies »


We have a plan

Where is the nature that people need – and how can we best protect it?

Science drives our priorities to where needs are most urgent and opportunities are greatest.

Our scientists develop new strategies and rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of our global programs and projects.

Our groundbreaking research and tools empower governments, corporations, local communities and other key decision-makers to develop tailored strategies that protect nature for people.


Science in Action


Stabilize our climate by protecting and restoring nature

© Trond Larsen

Protecting ‘irrecoverable carbon’: Conservation International researchers have identified ecosystems that contain vast reserves of carbon equivalent to 15 years’ worth of fossil fuel emissions. If lost, these carbon reserves — known as “irrecoverable carbon” — could not be restored by 2050, hastening a climate catastrophe. Using our data, we are undertaking an ambitious global effort to protect these ecosystems.


© Alexpunker

Targeting a climate powerhouse: Conservation International scientists and other researchers used data generated by a laser mounted on the International Space Station to create the first-ever three-dimensional map of the world’s forests. They found that forests in protected areas, such as national parks, keep an additional 10 billion metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere — that’s equivalent to a year’s worth of global fossil fuel emissions. The data can help target carbon-rich areas that fight climate change.


Double ocean protection

© Keith A. Ellenbogen

Revealing seaweed’s hidden climate benefits: Research by Conservation International scientists shows that seaweed forests — such as massive, fast-growing underwater towers of kelp — may play a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought. How big? The study found that some seaweed absorbs as much climate-warming carbon as the Amazon. Conservation in key seaweed forests could help keep roughly 36 million metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere — about as much climate-warming carbon as is stored in 1 billion trees.


© Cristina Mittermeier/sealegacy

Protecting the ocean for people: Conservation International scientists and other researchers have found that marine protected areas offer significant benefits for both reef biodiversity and coastal communities. Study findings show a connection between high levels of human health and well-being, and healthy fisheries — an important result as countries seek to expand marine protections to meet global biodiversity targets.


Expand nature-positive economies

© Paul Nicklen

Balancing protection and production: Overfishing is ravaging marine life. At the same time, oceans fuel economies and food security. In a recent paper, Conservation International experts dive into what needs to happen to balance environmental protection and sustainable production — highlighting critical scientific gaps that, if unaddressed, could jeopardize the ocean’s ability to support humanity.


A herder brings his cattle in for the night.
© Tessa Mildenhall

Bringing back wilder grasslands: Conservation efforts tend to focus on Earth’s forests. But what about grasslands? They hold more than a third of the world’s land-based carbon in their root and soil systems — yet they are overlooked and undervalued. A Conservation International study finds that bringing wildlife back to the grassy ecosystems helps keep them healthy. And healthier lands are good for the climate and communities — including for ranchers’ and farmers’ livelihoods.