Spatial Planning and Strategy Scientist, Global Science

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The Nature Conservancy

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Arlington, VA, United States

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2 days ago


Arlington, Virginia, USA

The work location for this position is flexible within locations where The Nature Conservancy has an established office. The headquarters of TNC is located in Arlington, Virginia.




The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that we can create a world in which people and nature thrive. We’re rooted in our Mission and guided by our Values, which includes a Commitment to Diversity and Respect for People, Communities, and Cultures. Whether it’s career development, flexible schedules, or a rewarding mission, there’s lots of reasons to love life #insideTNC. Want a better insight to TNC? Check out our TNC Talent playlist on YouTube or on Glassdoor.

Our goal is to cultivate an inclusive work environment so that all our colleagues around the globe feel a sense of belonging, and that their unique contributions to our mission are valued. We know we’ll only achieve our Mission by hiring and engaging a diverse workforce that reflects the communities in which we work. In addition to the requirements in our postings, we recognize that people come with talent and experiences outside of a job. Diversity of experience and skills combined with passion is a key to innovation and a culture of inclusion! Please apply – we’d love to hear from you. To quote myriad TNC staff members, “you’ll join for our mission, and you’ll stay for our people.”


We are looking for a Spatial Planning and Strategy Scientist to lead and collaborate on spatial planning and prioritization approaches across the conservancy, assuring there is better integration of information and methods between Global Science and science staff in other global, regional, country and state teams. The incumbent will identify and build capacity to fill the needs that contribute to the Global Spatial Science agenda and the One Conservancy Science Plan, which are investing in spatial science methods, tools, and approaches across the organization to achieve TNC’s 2030 Goals for people and nature.

The Spatial Planning and Strategy Scientist will provide technical and scientific leadership, coordination, service and training on topics such as spatial prioritization analyses, optimization, return-on-investment, trade-off analyses, systematic conservation planning. This position will work across diverse teams, conservation practitioners, scientists, leaders and other staff, as well as external partners, to provide scientific analysis and project support to apply rigorous spatial planning and prioritization approaches to advance TNC’s implementation of our conservation strategies. A key part of this role will be to steward a TNC partnership with Microsoft and the global Marxan community to scale systematic conservation planning for evidence-based decisions around the world for conservation, sustainable development and climate adaptation and mitigation. The incumbent will work with the Marxan Advisory Council and international partners to integrate quantitative and qualitative knowledge of Marxan’s decision-support for ocean, land and freshwater conservation. This is an opportunity to work internationally with leading scientists and organizations at a critical time for biodiversity loss and climate change.

The Spatial Planning and Strategy Scientist will be responsible for ensuring that priorities and programs throughout the Conservancy are aligned with and help grow the Global Science Spatial Science team‘s research and service agenda by supporting the use of rigorous spatial science techniques and building consistency around spatial planning approaches across the Conservancy. This position will report to the Director of Spatial Science for Global Science and sits within the Global Science Business Unit. The location for this position is flexible within countries where TNC is a legal and licensed operating entity and the candidate has the legal ability to work without visa or immigration assistance. No relocation or immigration assistance is available with this position.


Are you looking for work you can believe in? At TNC we strive to embody a philosophy of Work that You Can Believe in and where you can feel like you are making a difference every day. We’re looking for someone who can serve as a spatial science leader and technical subject matter resource for diverse conservation initiatives. Communication, managing complex science projects, working with diverse teams, capacity-building, and fundraising experiences are key in this role.

The Spatial Planning and Strategy Scientist will represent the Conservancy as a science leader on multi- disciplinary/multi-partner project teams and build capacity for systematic conservation planning and spatial action mapping around the world. The incumbent will ensure that the latest methods, tools, learning and cutting-edge spatial science approaches are coordinated and implemented across the Conservancy and support the creation of knowledge and communication products for the Marxan partnership, and the timely development of peer reviewed publications. This work will demonstrate and communicate how decision-support tools can aid in the delivery of our strategies for nature and people, and how spatial science informs conservation and spatial action planning.

The Spatial Planning and Strategy Scientist Responsibilities & Scope include:

  • Provides strategic leadership, oversight, and implementation of spatial science initiatives to advance use cases and build capacity for systematic conservation planning and spatial action mapping, including but not limited to area-based protection and management, development by design, integrated land, freshwater and ocean planning, regenerative agriculture, and nature-based solutions.
  • Oversees training programs for internal and external colleagues, governments, and universities on best practice and state-of-the-art science to support conservation planning decisions, including but not limited to Marxan suite of tools.
  • Ensure that global and field-based projects utilize cutting edge spatial science to help address large-scale, complex problems by leveraging internal and external capacity, and systematic and thorough processes.
  • Fosters internal and external collaborations with TNC business units, universities and project partners around the world to create enabling conditions and to integrate spatial science processes into conservation delivery for diverse planning contexts.
  • Reports and communicates on project impact to TNC and project partners.
  • Responsible for team engagement, and direct-report performance and management.
  • Interprets guidelines, evaluates information, and modifies processes to adapt to changing circumstances for the spatial science program.
  • Maintains scientific credibility through applied research, peer reviewed publications, and communication to diverse audiences.
  • Self-motivated training so that skills remain current.
  • Works in a complex matrix organization environment.
  • Manages grants, contracts, or writes funding proposals.
  • Willingness to travel locally, regionally, and internationally as required to meet project and strategy needs.


  • Master's Degree in a science-related field and at least 6 years of experience or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience manipulating, analyzing and interpreting statistical or environmental data.
  • Record of peer reviewed publications in scientific journals and technical reports.
  • Experience fundraising and/or writing grants and research proposals.
  • Supervisory experience.
  • Experience complex projects including the financial aspect and coordinating the work of peers and partners.
  • Experience working and communicating with a wide range of people.
  • Experience with spatial planning and prioritization tools and their applications in real world problems and settings.
  • Communication skills experience; written, spoken and graphical.
  • Fluency in English, written and spoken. Fluency in additional languages, particularly Spanish, is highly desired.


  • PhD and at least 3-5 years of related experience in applied spatial analysis and research, landscape ecology, geographical information science, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, ArcGIS/QGIS, Program R, python, and database management.
  • Robust quantitative and spatial analytic skills (e.g., prioritization/trade-off analyses, optimization, predictive modeling, decision-analysis, multivariate analysis, spatial mapping, species distribution modeling, risk assessment).
  • Experience in teaching or training concepts of systematic conservation planning and spatial action mapping for land, ocean, and freshwater conservation.
  • Experience with training and capacity building in Marxan, Zonation, and other spatial prioritization tools.
  • Recognized expertise in formulating and executing spatial prioritization analyses and spatial action planning that incorporates biodiversity, climate and socio-economic data.
  • Experience facilitating spatial planning process in more than one of academia, non-profit, private and government settings.
  • Experience with biodiversity and ecosystem inventory, monitoring, and data modeling.
  • Experience and eagerness to work in a trans-disciplinary manner, showing collaborative approaches and valuing knowledge plurality (natural sciences, social sciences, Indigenous and local knowledge).
  • Demonstrated ability to successfully develop and implement complex projects in an unstructured environment.
  • Independent and self-motivated with the ability to participate effectively in a remote team environment.
  • Professional network in conservation planning, spatial science, and decision science.
  • Multilingual skills and multicultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated.


Since 1951, TNC has been doing work you can believe in. Through grassroots action, we have grown from a small non-profit into one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organizations in the world. Thanks to more than 1 million members, over 400 scientists, and the dedicated efforts of our diverse staff and partners, we impact conservation around the world!

TNC offers competitive and comprehensive benefits packages tailored to the individual countries where we work. These may include health care benefits, retirement benefits, parental leave, paid time off, life insurance, and disability coverage as well as an employee assistance program and other life and well-being benefits. Learn more about our benefits on our Culture Tab on

We’re proud to offer a flexible work environment that supports the health and well-being of the people we employ.

This description is not designed to be a complete list of all duties and responsibilities required for this job.


To apply for job ID 52545, submit your materials online by using the Apply Now button at by 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, December 11, 2022. Applications will be reviewed in the order they’re received, and the position will remain open until filled. Need help applying? Visit our recruitment page or contact

Due to this position’s location being flexible within countries where The Nature Conservancy is a registered NGO and has an already established office, we are unable to provide an accurate salary range as our salary ranges are based on geographic locations. However, if you provide your city, state/province, and country in your cover letter we will inform you of the salary range for this position based on your location if you are selected to proceed into the initial selection round.

The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer
. Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and culture. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military, protected veteran status or other status protected by law.

TNC is committed to offering accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application process. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, please send a note to with Request for Accommodation in the subject line.

Where legally permissible, TNC requires all new employees to be fully vaccinated and willing to keep up to date with vaccines that protect against COVID-19. By accepting an offer of employment, you agree to comply with this requirement, unless you are entitled to a legally mandated exemption.