Quantified Impact Accelerator Awardees

Abby Smith
4 min readNov 19, 2018

We are thrilled to introduce you to the organizations accepted for Upstream Tech’s Quantified Impact Accelerator — a program to provide planning and monitoring support for pilot-stage conservation projects. We’re excited to support these impactful projects as they grow and yield far-reaching conservation outcomes. Over the coming months, we’ll be spotlighting each of these finalists on the Upstream Tech’s blog, so be sure to follow along!

The Nature Conservancy California: The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends through science, innovative on-the-ground solutions and policy. The California Chapter is currently working with Upstream Tech on modern mechanisms to help the Conservancy monitor over 200 conservation easement properties in California. This efficient monitoring will allow their team to have a robust picture of the landscape, strategically send folks for field visits, and reduce costs without compromising robust oversight.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Watershed planning efforts are underway throughout the Northern Mariana Islands, particularly in light of increasing water stress due to climate change. The island of Rota is exploring innovative methods for setting baselines and future monitoring of revegetation efforts. This project will analyze land cover changes in the Talakhaya watershed — the source of most of the island’s freshwater and a designated conservation area.

The Nature Conservancy Chile: Water security and restoration are vital to the Limarí river basin, an important region of agricultural production facing waning water resources. TNC Chile is working with local scientists and farmers to identify surface water market tools which can benefit both farmers and nature. Globally, about 1/3 of all the basins in the world face water scarcity issues which in turn affects about ½ of the global population. Timely lessons learned in the Limarí will be used to scale TNC’s integrated approaches to water scarcity globally. Upstream Tech’s assessment will quantify historical trends for agriculture and irrigation to better target such efforts.

Environmental Defense Fund: Coastal communities are seeking strategies to mitigate the hazards of rising seas and intense storms associated with climate change and EDF is involved in several innovative efforts to incorporate natural infrastructure into such designs. This pilot will evaluate land erosion and wetland health in the Port Fourchon area of Louisiana to inform EDF’s coastal resilience efforts like their Environmental Impact Bond.

Chesapeake Conservancy: The connection between agricultural management and water quality is a critical issue in the Chesapeake Bay, and the Chesapeake Conservancy is evaluating technological approaches to address these challenges. The pilot project will assess current agricultural practices and prioritize farm-level interventions to improve conservation outcomes.

The Nature Conservancy Texas: TNC Texas focuses on water conservation and agriculture to restore environmental flows and enhance resilience. This pilot in Texas’ Upper Colorado Basin includes assessments of agricultural practices and irrigation history to optimize water use in water scarce regions.

Bonneville Environmental Foundation: The Oregon-based Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) engages communities, businesses, and agencies as a driver of change in the water and energy sectors. BEF seeks to address critical water and climate challenges in North America by developing, testing, and promoting new and entrepreneurial initiatives and programs that restore healthy rivers and streams and support a stable climate. Working with the Wetlands Conservancy, this pilot will test approaches to measuring the impacts of beaver dam analogs on vegetation and surface water availability.

Conservation International Suriname: CI Suriname works to protect the country’s biodiverse forests and valuable natural resources. As part of the Matawai Landscape Program, the pilot will include change detection for deforestation and land degradation in areas surrounding the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, which will help Suriname meet their commitment under the UNFCCC COP23 to protect 93% of their existing forest cover.

Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership & American Rivers: SARP and American Rivers work with multiple partners across the Southeast to protect habitat and water quality of rivers and streams. In an effort to locate uncatalogued dams, SARP and American Rivers, in partnership with multiple entities, initiated citizen science programs to locate uncatalogued dams in Tennessee and Georgia. This pilot project will leverage Upstream Tech’s technology to complement these efforts for efficient dam detection that can then be used to support prioritization scenarios.

Congratulations to the winners!

Notice some trends? Agricultural management, stream flow, water scarcity, watershed restoration, deforestation and land use change are extremely important issues to the Upstream Tech Team. We look forward to working on these projects and many others to reduce monitoring costs and drive environmental conservation outcomes that address climate change and improve climate resilience!