Introducing the Habitat Network: A Partnership Between The Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab

Photo © pat ronan

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and The Nature Conservancy are excited to announce a partnership that will take YardMap to its next phase over the coming months: Habitat Network. Powered by the Cornell YardMap platform, the Habitat Network will be the same great application with a new name, an expanded mission, and an ever-increasing suite of tools to help you in your efforts to manage landscapes ecologically.


Photo © Calypso Orchid

Along with the name change we’ll be increasing our “on-the-ground” presence first in several cities along the Atlantic Flyway: Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. These cities are helping build the capacity of the Habitat Network to serve urban audiences and address ecological function in areas of high population density. The Nature Conservancy’s has been working with private landowners to protect, manage, and restore lands for the benefit of people and nature for over 65 years. The Habitat Network will continue this tradition with a specific focus on advancing conservation work in cities around the country.

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Photo © Laser Burners

Much of the land in cities is in private ownership so finding ways to strategically and effectively engage private landowners in the care, stewardship, and restoration of these urban landscapes is critical to a mission of conservation that extends beyond wild spaces. This project examines how to transform urban areas into functional habitat to better support a diversity of wildlife while also increasing the quality of life for people and communities. The Nature Conservancy and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology will work in collaboration with local agencies and partner organizations in three eastern U.S. cities to advance key conservation actions on private lands that advance the conservation goals of the specific city, TNC, and its many partners.

What changes does this partnership bring?

    • A Great New Name
    • Improved Mapping Tools (future)
    • Development of on-the-ground urban conservation efforts (ongoing)
    • A Planning Tool (future)
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Photo © anpalacios

Boston: Titletown, the Hub, City on the Hill, or Beantown, Boston has many names and is known for its cuisine and rich history. However, most recently Boston has been known to suffer from extreme weather events, including setting an all time seasonal record of snowfall in the winter of 2014-2015 of 108.6 inches. Flooding is a major threat to the city of Boston with three major rivers, the Mystic, Charles, and Neponset, emptying into the Boston Harbor. Between extreme precipitation events and sea level rise, Boston needs help that nature may be able to provide. The Nature Conservancy has recently developed an urban conservation program in the city of Boston to address the issue of flooding. Habitat Network will work with The Conservancy’s urban conservation programs and local partners to encourage and educate private landowners to reducing flood risk in metropolitan Boston.


Photo © Anthony Quintano

Washington D.C.: Our nation’s capital, home of fantastic museums, famous cherry-trees, and the US president, D.C. is an exciting place at the crossroads of political action. However, the city suffers from water and air pollution, flooding, and dangerously high temperatures (called heat-island effect). The Nature Conservancy’s urban conservation program, Habitat Network, and local partners will work together to address D.C.’s most pressing environmental issues by engaging private landowners in forming a more sustainable relationship with nature.


Photo © Jennifer Boyer

Philadelphia: The City of Brotherly Love, home of the Liberty Bell, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the once-capital of the U.S. during and after the Revolutionary war. But, like most large cities on the east coast it suffers from environmental issues like pollution, flooding of the Schuylkill and Delaware River Valleys, and lack of green or natural space. The Nature Conservancy along with the Habitat Network are working to encourage residents to take conservation of their city into their own hands and implement conservation actions on their property to aid in the mitigation of environmental issues.


Photo © i_yudai

Additionally, expect major changes to the mapping platform over the next year. We’ve got some big ideas about how to make the process easier and more useful for people willing to share their efforts to create a world-wide Habitat Network with us.

If you are willing to help us test-out some of our new designs over the coming year, send us an email at