Science for Nature and People (SNAP)

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How can protecting nature help secure food, energy, and water — and enhance the quality of life — for 9 billion people?


SNAP: Science for Nature and People is a new scientific collaboration between NCEAS, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). SNAP is a boundary institution - between analysis and action - bridging the gap between academia and decision makers and practitioners. SNAP Working Groups address key questions at the intersection of nature conservation and economic development in ways that will benefit humankind.

SNAP is structured to deliver rapid results that will make a real-world difference by:

  • tackling big-picture inquiries
  • gathering natural and social scientific researchers, policymakers, the private sector, funders, and field practitioners to answer these questions, quickly and practically
  • building broad, diverse constituencies with the motivation and resources to turn the SNAP Working Group results into action.

Starting with the NCEAS model of soliciting open scientific Calls for Proposals for collaborative interdisciplinary Working Groups, SNAP projects go one step further to engage practitioners, decision-makers and policymakers from the start to create a clear pathway to implementation for the findings of the working group efforts. NCEAS seeks to engage its community of more than 6,000 scientists who have previously collaborated in NCEAS synthesis research to propose and participate in SNAP Working Groups to help provide scientific rigor and integrity to all SNAP efforts.

Link to SNAP Website

SNAP Working Groups

The SNAP 2014 Call for Proposals is underway. Deadline for submissions is May 20, 2014.

Eight SNAP Working Groups are underway, tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges by identifying ways in which conserving nature can create a net benefit to human well-being:

Data-Limited Fisheries: Worldwide Fish Stock Assessment Solutions (2014)

Overfishing threatens the health of many of the world’s fish stocks and the millions who rely on fish for their livelihood and animal protein. We know that reliably assessed fisheries tend to be better managed and thus less overfished however, we lack regular assessment data for more than 90% of Earth’s fisheries. This Working Group will explore how new, inexpensive approaches to assess such data-limited fisheries could be implemented across the globe.

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Hydraulic Fracturing: Impacts on Water Quality and Quantity (2014)

Shale energy development is made possible by the new technologies of horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing. This new technology is helping meet increasing global demand for energy and providing economic benefits while also using large quantities of water and producing toxic chemical waste. The aim of this Working Group is to use science to help predict and avoid conflicts between shale energy development and the need for clean safe waters for people and natural systems.

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Urban Water Security: Prioritizing Investments in Nature (2014)

Water stress is an increasing global problem, with as much as 30% of the world’s population facing water shortages on a regular basis. An innovative mechanism, called water funds, is a potential means to mobilize and scale up investment in natural capital to meet cities’ growing water security needs, especially in Latin America. This Working Group will develop and demonstrate a decision-oriented rapid assessment methodology to identify the most promising Latin American cities for water funds based on science.

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Agriculture: Smart Planning and Sustainable Intensification (2014)

Though small farmers dominate agriculture in developing countries, commercial farming is now poised to move into infrastructure “corridors” in these countries. These corridor proposals have created an opportunity to demonstrate what sustainable agriculture intensification might look like on the ground. Smart planning and responsible investment would include better market access to improve agricultural livelihoods while maintaining the ecosystem services provided by healthy soils, water and natural habitat. This Working Group will address smart planning and sustainable agricultural intensification in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, with implications for development corridors throughout the world.

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Ridges to Reef Fisheries: Enhancing Information on Land-Use Impacts on Fisheries (2014)

Increasing populations and economic development along coasts around the globe are leading to growing pressures on fisheries and other marine resources. To date, marine conservation has focused almost exclusively on reducing overfishing. The lack of data and models has limited the ability to link land-based development with marine ecosystems despite the harmful impacts on marine ecosystems from terrestrial activities like farming and logging. This Working Group will address these information gaps, allowing conservationists to better address the impact land-use changes have on fisheries.

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Making Ecosystems Count in the Sustainable Development Goals (2014)

Providing for a growing and increasingly wealthy global population while protecting the environment calls for a dramatic paradigm shift in how we approach development worldwide. Working closely with government ministries of the Volta and Nile Basins, this Working Group will develop agriculture, ecosystem and natural-resource based indicators for planning and monitoring country-scale progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The indicators, which will be grounded in ecosystem sciences, will include novel evaluation measures for natural capital and ecosystem services, and have practical policy relevance.

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Western Amazonia: Balancing Infrastructure Development and Conservation of Waters, Wetlands, and Fisheries (2013)

The Amazon Basin is the largest river system in the world. The Western Amazon contains the largest areas of river and stream channels, flooded forests and floodplain lakes in the basin. The river is a major source of drinking water for millions of people and its vast wetlands provide local populations with essential protein as well as employment in subsistence and commercial fisheries. This Working Group will promote integrated river basin management and planning to provide a transnational framework to help stakeholders better understand upstream and downstream impacts of development on waters, wetlands, and sub-basins and possible mitigations in the western Amazon.

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Coastal Defenses: Integrating Natural Defenses into Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction (2013)

Built levees, sea walls, and artificial barrier islands can be overcome by just one environmental event. However, mangroves, coral reefs, and wetlands have been shown to protect lives and property. This Working Group explores how conserving and restoring coastal habitats that have been lost can help protect coastal communities and livelihoods from the impacts of extreme environmental events. They will develop practical guidance and tools for decision-makers and practitioners to implement natural solutions, as well as, identify policy and financial incentives that lead to reduced risks for people and nature.

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Science for Nature and People (SNAP) initiative is generously funded through founding grants by Shirley and Harry Hagey, Steve and Roberta Denning, Seth Neiman, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.