Nature's Strongholds

Where nature is strong, for people and planet

Nature’s Strongholds not only contain much of the world’s biodiversity, but inherently store vast amounts of carbon, are more resilient to climate change, their protection reduces the likelihood of future zoonotic pandemics, and they provide health benefits locally and globally.


Solomon Islands Photo: Björn Svensson

Nature is in decline. The human population has surpassed 8 billion people and consumption is soaring as natural capital is converted to economic capital. This is causing a bottleneck, a prolonged period of peak environmental impact, that is damaging the natural bases of life on Earth and resulting in three interrelated, mutually reinforcing, and compounding crises:


  1. The collapse of biodiversity

  2. Climate change

  3. The persistent threat of zoonotic pandemics

It is nature that sits at the heart, both in the degradation of nature which has led to these crises, and it is nature which also provides the foundation to solve them.



Identifying Nature's Strongholds


WCS's global conservation approach is strategically designed around landscapes and seascapes across the world where nature is strong: that is, where ecological integrity is high. Ecological Integrity captures structure, composition, and function and it is these values that make nature robust and resilient.


It is through identifying areas with high ecological integrity that we not only capture most of the areas of biodiversity, but those systems themselves are more resilient in the face of climate change and, if protected, will simply prevent the next zoonotic outbreak.


Ndoki-Likouala Landscape, Congo. Photo: Scott Ramsay

WCS Portfolio of Nature’s Strongholds


WCS has mapped not only the ecological integrity of ecosystems across the world to find the most resilient and ecologically replete sites, but those where we have the greatest opportunity for impact.


Where other organizations may focus on a single approach – we at WCS work across the full spectrum. Delivering complete conservation entails working to:


  • Prevent loss, where nature is relatively intact
  • Protect from total loss and extinction, where nature is at its lowest point
  • Rewild, reconnect, and expand, where nature is recovering

WCS portfolio of Nature’s Strongholds collectively represents the most threatened elements of biodiversity that have the greatest chance of getting through the bottleneck. 


If we do this, get nature through the bottleneck and into the breakthrough, we can ensure the recovery of nature in the long term.