San Francisco Estuary Institute
2021 – $15,000 Urban Nature Lab Website
2019 – $10,000 Operational Landscape Units Project (with SPUR)
2018 – $10,000 General Support
2018 – $10,000 Biodiversity Integration into the SPUR Regional Plan
2017 – $10,000 Catalyzing Urban Biodiversity Book Project by Robin Grossinger
2017 – $10,000 Operational Landscape Units Project (with SPUR)
2017 – $10,000 Framework for Sea-Level Rise Adaptation
2016 – $15,000 Framework for Sea-Level Rise Adaptation
2014 – $10,000 Center for Resilient Landscapes

The San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) delivers visionary science that empowers people to revitalize nature in their communities. Created by the region for the region, we are a unique local science think-tank supporting diverse organizations to improve the environmental health of the Bay Area and beyond. We provide independent science on water quality, urban sustainability, and ecological resilience to public agencies, NGOs, communities, and business leaders. These organizations collaborate with our team of 70 dedicated scientists and technologists for the innovative solutions needed to make our region, and the people who live here, healthy and resilient.

For more than a quarter century, SFEI has served as a trusted science advisor to local and state agencies charged with implementing natural resource mandates. Our pioneering historical ecology research has established an ecological foundation for large landscape restoration efforts in watersheds throughout California, prompting paradigm shifts in management. In the Bay, SFEI staff have provided science leadership to the California Coastal Conservancy’s 2015 Baylands Goals—a blueprint to accelerate the restoration of tidal marsh in San Francisco Bay toward a goal of 100,000 acres. In the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, our landmark studies have supported a partnership between state agencies and major water users by creating science-based options and a vision to restore up to 30,000 acres of Delta wetlands habitat. In cities, our Urban Nature Lab uses the quantitative science of nature in cities to help advance innovative, ecologically based urban planning and design.

SFEI develops nature-based solutions to improve conditions across the landscape — along shorelines, in cities, and in rural areas. We use science-based planning to create multi-benefit approaches to improve ecosystem functions for people, like reducing flooding and sequestering carbon, and for nature, like creating habitat for native wildlife. These interventions are cost-effective, resilient, and can be implemented across the land-use spectrum from high in watersheds, through the valleys that hold our cities and agriculture, down to the edge of the Bay and Delta, with the intention of ensuring equitable outcomes for all communities. Our approach takes advantage of natural processes by restoring wetlands, floodplains, and riparian areas; creating high-performance networks of nature throughout; realigning creeks to reduce flooding and improve sediment delivery to protect the shoreline; and managing landscapes to sequester carbon rather than emitting greenhouse gases. 

Our vision of the Bay Area, as a model for other urbanized regions facing similar challenges, encompasses:

  • Healthy ecosystems supporting people and nature across the landscape: along the shoreline, in cities, in agricultural areas, and in open space,
  • Natural infrastructure helping urban areas and their surrounding landscapes manage sea-level rise, water supply challenges, higher temperatures, water pollution, more severe drought and flooding, and other climate-related threats, and
  • Green space in developed areas improving the health and quality of life for all residents and for native wildlife.

For more information about SFEI and the Resilient Landscapes Program, please see our Strategic Plan.

Seed Fund Specific Projects

  • The SF Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas is guiding local and regional strategies to adapt to sea level rise.
  • Hidden Nature SF reveals the San Francisco landscape before the city.
  • SFEI’s Urban Nature Lab uses the quantitative science of nature in cities to help advance innovative, ecologically based urban planning and design.

Our novel research on cities, published in The Biological Deserts Fallacy (BioScience 2021), identifies the different pathways by which cities can benefit regional ecosystems