Center For Conservation Innovation

JIM ABERNETHY/National Geographic CreativePioneering innovative, pragmatic solutions to conserve endangered species

The Center focuses on improving endangered species conservation in the U.S., especially under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We use data, technology, and interdisciplinary approaches to pioneer innovative, pragmatic conservation solutions. We think about the next generation of wildlife policies and practices because yesterday’s approaches are inadequate to solve tomorrow’s challenges. And we strive for real-world benefits for the full spectrum of endangered plants and animals across our nation. Learn more about the Center’s work in this overview document

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Our Approach

Our work centers on the ESA because it is the most comprehensive tool to conserve imperiled species in the U.S. This work consists of four components: recovery, permitting, monitoring, and transparency. The goal of the ESA is recovery—ensuring a species is likely to persist in the long term. But permits issued under the ESA can authorize activities that impede recovery. Monitoring is needed to determine the effects of those activities on recovery, the effectiveness of conservation actions, and other vital metrics. In the face of budget cuts and personnel shortfalls, transparency of government data will enable the Center and others to help with monitoring and to enhance our effectiveness as scientists and advocates. All four components are vital to fulfilling our mission of improving endangered species conservation in the U.S.

Each of our initiatives is designed to generate at least one of the following outputs.

  • Fill knowledge gaps.  Find and analyze data to inform conservation decisions and make the data publicly available.
  • Demonstrate the possible.  Offer concrete examples of how novel tools can improve conservation.
  • Improve implementation.  Develop better wildlife regulations, policies, practices, and decision-making tools.
  • Improve accountability.  Ensure government agencies, permittees, and other are fulfilling their conservation duties.

Who We Are

Within Defenders of Wildlife, staff from many programs contribute to the Center’s work. Our core team is the staff of the Endangered Species Conservation Department. Jacob Malcom and Michael Evans lead our data science work. Ya-Wei Li directs the Center and KC Stover coordinates our work. 

The Center has a diverse group of volunteers, ranging from senior advisors with substantial experience in conservation and related disciplines, to college interns helping with data gathering and analysis.  

Collaborate With Us

The Center collaborates with many other organizations, including government agencies, universities, regulated entities, and other conservation groups. We focus on partnerships that take advantage of innovations in science, technology, and policy. To learn more about collaborating with us, please send an email inquiry to esa@defenders.org. If you are interested in volunteering or working with us, we post any position vacancies here.

You can also sign up for our periodic email updates by sending a request to esa@defenders.org.