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Cities Stories

North America Cities Network

Gloved hands of teenagers come together in a circle to set bricks in an urban park.
Birmingham hands Birmingham high school students are working with The Nature Conservancy and partners to transform vacant lots into natural space and find empowerment in the process. It's an example of partnerships and communities helping cities thrive. © The Nature Conservancy (Devan King)

To fulfill our mission to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends, equitable conservation in cities is critical to addressing systemic environmental injustices and creating healthy and thriving communities and ecosystems.

Cities are home to more than 80% of the U.S. population and that number is expected to double by 2060. At the same time, climate change is having a disproportionate impact on frontline communities in cities and surrounding environments. 

Since 2014, a network of TNC staff working in more than a dozen cities across the U.S. has been committed to partnering with community-based organizations to co-create equitable conservation practices and nature-based solutions that address the voice and vision of local communities.

By taking the time to understand the relationship of people and nature, our community-centered approach seeks to equitably improve the well-being of city residents and the environments in which they live.

Where We Work

The Cities Network is designed to foster innovation and learning through structured communication, capacity building and best practices that can be universally shared.

City Programs

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Atlanta, Georgia
× A group of people work together at a community garden.

Atlanta, Georgia

City programs

Our vision is to fundamentally change the relationship between Georgia’s cities and nature, so that both can thrive.

Baltimore, Maryland and DC
× Three people plant a tree sapling.

Baltimore, Maryland and DC

City programs

As the capital region experiences record rain and heat, TNC is working with community partners and landowners to implement natural solutions to address the challenges of deadly heat waves, flooding and stormwater runoff, the fastest growing source of pollution to our rivers and to the Chesapeake Bay.

Bridgeport, Connecticut
× Bridgeport volunteer tree planting.

Bridgeport, Connecticut

City programs

Connecticut’s cities team is reimagining how nature can be integrated into Bridgeport and partnering with the community to develop a neighborhood vision in which nature-based solutions can have the most impact to the health and well-being of local residents.

Chicago, Illinois
× Chicago skyline see from a distance.

Chicago, Illinois

City programs

The Nature Conservancy is partnering with community groups, state and federal agencies, universities and other stakeholders to address the environmental challenges the Windy City faces.

Denver, Colorado
× Volunteers planting trees.
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Denver, Colorado

City programs

Smart urban planning that advances nature-based community resilience, urban habitat connectivity and equitable climate action can ensure we all thrive together—and the Denver metro area could lead the way.

Detroit, Michigan
× Sacred Heart Church in Detroit.
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Detroit, Michigan

City programs

TNC is advancing green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) solutions nature-based, engineered features like rain gardens—to manage stormwater runoff, protect clean air and water and increase access to greenspace. By tapping into the power of nature, here at the heart of the Great Lakes, Detroit can help lead the way to a brighter future for our cities and the freshwater resources we all depend on.

Los Angeles, California
× The Los Angeles skyline.

Los Angeles, California

City programs

We are creating a new model for urban conservation by using natural solutions to increase biodiversity, reconnect urban communities with nature and help secure Los Angeles’ water future. TNC is driving change in four major areas: policy, market solutions, science and on-the-ground projects.

Louisville, Kentucky
× Louisville tree planting.

Louisville, Kentucky

City programs

In the fall of 2017, The Nature Conservancy and partners launched the Green Heart Project to examine the link between neighborhood greenery and holistic human health. This five-year, collaborative effort—led by the University of Louisville Envirome Institute, Hyphae Design Laboratory and TNC—could inform new, cutting-edge municipal decision-making processes that connect nature with health.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
× Aerial view of the Milwaukee skyline.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

City programs

The Milwaukee Cities Program is working to help address critical conservation challenges—water quality and flooding, habitat quality and climate resilience—by building partnerships to amplify and complement the work of others.

New Jersey
× A river in Paterson, New Jersey.

New Jersey

City programs

The New Jersey Greening Our Cities team's vision is to achieve greener, more resilient cities in New Jersey through meaningful engagement and collaboration with community, anchor institutions and other stakeholders and implementing impactful Conservation efforts.

New York, New York
× The Manhattan skyline.

New York, New York

City programs

Keeping trees healthy and expanding their canopy helps sustain and increase the urban forest’s many benefits, from keeping areas cooler in the summer by reducing the urban heat island effect, to absorbing stormwater and supporting people’s wellbeing and quality of life.

Orlando Metro, Florida
× A group of people pose together under a tree.

Orlando Metro, Florida

City programs

TNC is playing an important role connecting scientists, decision makers, community members and nonprofit organizations in the Orlando Metro area so that, together, we can find solutions to development challenges and threats to natural ecosystems.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
× Staff and community members perform maintenance.
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

City programs

In Philadelphia, our strategies include promoting solutions to help absorb stormwater, planting trees to help cool cities and reduce air pollution and engaging and inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards to tackle the challenge of making cities more sustainable places to live.

Phoenix, Arizona
× Volunteers plant a tree.

Phoenix, Arizona

City programs

In Phoenix, we're working on solutions to extreme heat by engaging with residents to identify locations that could benefit from nature-based solutions to cool, such as trees and by working with residents to increase their capacity to advocate for solutions.

Portland, Oregon
× Sunrise in Oregon.

Portland, Oregon

City programs

To improve the equitable distribution of trees and the many benefits they bring, a group of local partners—The Blueprint Foundation, The Intertwine Alliance and The Nature Conservancy—created an initiative called Connecting Canopies to bring together neighborhoods, government, partners and businesses to create inclusive and sustainable action plans for urban tree planting and stewardship.

Providence, Rhode Island
× Providence city skyline.

Providence, Rhode Island

City programs

In Providence, top priorities include reducing stormwater and nutrient pollution in urban rivers and upper Narragansett Bay, restoring degraded fish and wildlife habitats and improving air quality through urban forestry.

Puget Sound, Washington
× A tree sapling in a large, plastic bucket.
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Puget Sound, Washington

City programs

Making cities more resilient and livable, and building support for nature through the development of green infrastructure and natural solutions to pollution.

St. Louis, Missouri
× Volunteers planting trees.

St. Louis, Missouri

City programs

The Nature Conservancy’s Missouri Cities Program works alongside local communities to grow equitable, nature-based solutions that aim to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for both people and nature in the St. Louis region.

Wilmington, Delaware
× A finished park with 14 acres of wetlands.

Wilmington, Delaware

City programs

In Wilmington, we are promoting nature-based solutions to address a wide variety of social and environmental challenges and demonstrating the efficacy of our projects through sound research and evaluation. We are also working to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and engage residents in community science research to improve water quality and the health of urban forests.

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Two people dig a hole during an urban tree planting event.
Tree planting in Phoenix, AZ
× Two people dig a hole during an urban tree planting event.
A group of people pose together during a community dedication ceremony.
Dedication in Baltimore, MD Turner Station Conservation Teams pose with Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski (far left) during a dedication ceremony for the Witness Trees Project, November 2022. © Matt Kane / TNC
× A group of people pose together during a community dedication ceremony.

By the Numbers

  • 8

    billion people in the world

  • 50%

    of the world's population currently live in cities

  • 89%

    of the U.S. population will live in cities by 2050

A urban wetlands area. Tall grasses grow along the edge of a small pond. Tall apartment building rise in the background.
Southbridge Wetlands in Wilmington, DE The finished park holds a 20-acre stormwater management facility and restores 14 acres of wetlands. © John Hinkson/TNC
× A urban wetlands area. Tall grasses grow along the edge of a small pond. Tall apartment building rise in the background.
The hands of five people reach into a large container holding a tree sapling, touching the rich, dark soil.
Community-led Celebration in Denver A community-led tree planting celebration in Globeville, Elyria-Swansea in Denver in fall 2019. © Kevin Mohatt
× The hands of five people reach into a large container holding a tree sapling, touching the rich, dark soil.