The Nature Conservancy works with four different types of forest landowners: federal, state, industrial private owners and nonindustrial private land owners. In order to manage forests effectively, the Conservancy and its partners develop various management strategies based on landowner’s resources and objectives.
Public forest lands have a mandate to be managed for multiple uses including the conservation of biodiversity and natural communities, recreational opportunities and timber production. Private landowners may focus on economic returns or the recreational or aesthetic value of their forestlands. All landowners have a shared need to manage the health and resilience of their forests.

A significant threat to forest health is rapid climate variability. The Nature Conservancy is developing climate-specific key ecological attributes (KEA’s) to help landowners assess and manage risk from climate variability. By using climate mapping technology, the Conservancy is able to identify forests more at risk to climate change. We assess the vulnerability and quantify the economic risk of a forest type to its landowner, and then we recommend management activities based on those relative risks. Those recommendations will ideally be adopted into the landowner’s forest management plans.
KEAs were developed to give a land manager a better understanding of the overall ecological function of a forested stand. While traditional forest metrics are included in KEA data, KEAs also assess forest attributes related to both species and structural diversity as well as a forest's capacity to adapt to a changing climate. When used as an inventory tool, KEAs can help a land manager develop management prescriptions that focus on improving the overall ecological integrity of a forested stand while focusing on overall productivity.