The Nature Conservancy Digital Transformation Initiatives

About the Customer

Founding in 1951, The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 117 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide — and we operate more than 100 marine conservation projects globally. They have more than 1 million members and work in all 50 United States and 72 countries around the world — protecting habitats from grasslands to coral reefs, from Australia to Alaska to Zambia.

Scope and Challenges

The Nature Conservancy began partnering with Microsoft’s Environmental Sustainability and AI for Earth teams to explicitly incorporate AI and cloud computing to advance its mission. The nonprofit received a grant for cloud services from Microsoft Philanthropies fulfilled by NetHope, an organization that helps other nonprofits improve their IT expertise and resources. The Nature Conservancy has adopted Microsoft Azure cloud services, which is revolutionizing how the nonprofit approaches conservation planning—and drives meaningful change on the ground (or, in some cases, in the water).

Outcome and Implications

The long-term partnership with Microsoft empowered The Nature Conservancy to use an innovative approach that combined traditional, academic research with big data, 
artificial intelligence (AI) and social media inputs to map, in high resolution, the full value of coral reefs to tourism, highlighting the incentive for 
sustainable reef management.

With the adoption of Microsoft cloud services. Microsoft Azure not only will provide a powerful and flexible platform to store and crunch data; it also will enable tools like machine learning and data scraping that the nonprofit staff can use to better understand the state of the world’s natural resources—and how they can better protect the planet.

"The collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and Microsoft helped open new doors into what the nonprofit even imagined was possible. Once we got a grant for Azure cloud services and began working with Microsoft’s AI for Earth program on the optimal uses of its cloud and AI infrastructure, we began to realize how much Azure’s cognitive services API could help us increase the impact of our conservation planning.” - said Zach Ferdaña, Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy. 

“Thanks to our work with Microsoft, we have the incredible opportunity to leverage technology to link science to actionable planning. We’re using AI, machine learning and other technology tools to accelerate our impact and increase coastal communities’ resilience. We’re hacking the future.” -said Zach Ferdaña, Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy. 


"Now that we can pinpoint how nature is valuable and where it is valuable, we can make the case accurately, locally and unassailably that we need to protect these resources—and win an argument for nature." -said Mark Spalding, Senior Marine Scientist at The Nature Conservancy.

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Enterprise Software and Cloud Applications Purchased by The Nature Conservancy

Vendor Old Product New Product Function Market Users VAR/SI When Live
Microsoft Legacy Applications Microsoft Azure Machine Learning ML and Data Science Platform Machine Learning n/a n/a 2017 2018
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IT Decision Makers and Key Stakeholders at The Nature Conservancy

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