About NHI > Mission & Vision

Mission & Vision

The Natural Heritage Institute is a non-profit, conservation advocacy organization founded in 1989.  Our mission is to restore and protect the natural functions that support water-dependent ecosystems and the services they provide to sustain and enrich human life.  We do this by developing innovative solutions using cutting-edge scientific, legal, and policy expertise.  Our vision is to recreate a world where rivers function like rivers again in harmony with human needs.

NHI assists in nearly all stages of water management decision-making and approaches the decisions from an integrated systems perspective.  Rivers are integrally related with surface waters, groundwaters, and their adjacent land ecosystems that support natural habitat and human communities.   We analyze the flows in these interrelated water systems and recommend how the flows could be best optimized to serve the various interests that need water.  We help to show how optimizing water usage leads to beneficial impacts that can be measured in both economic value and in healthy environmental conditions for all its inhabitants.


NHI is the premiere non-profit, non-governmental organization, working at the global scale, to rehabilitate natural functions in heavily engineered rivers systems. For over two decades, NHI has been working to re-create a world where rivers function like rivers again, in harmony with human needs. Our focus is on major, often transnational, river basins in California, the U.S. boundary waters, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Their floodplains, wetlands, deltas, and estuaries are truly the engines of biological productivity and the earth's aquatic life support system. Yet, freshwater ecosystems are today the most imperiled on the planet. No other natural resource is as intimately connected to food security and basin human needs, particularly in the most vulnerable communities of the world. These stresses will become more pronounced as the climate changes.


Often, repairing damaged river requires re-optimizing entire hydropower, water supply, irrigation and flood management systems at the basin scale. This work demands exceptional technical, economic, and legal capabilities. Yet NHI's unique and highly efficient business model assures that we are never capacity-limited in these projects. We assemble specialized project teams by drawing upon our remarkable board of directors, our network of expert affiliates, partnering organizations all over the world, academic experts and consultants, to augment the capacity of our resident staff.

We often work with the ultimate decision-makers on water resources: the governments themselves, and the ultimate custodians of water resources, the water rights holders, infrastructure operators, power companies, and farmers.

Our range of tools and strategies to influence the ways in which water resources are managed includes the development and deployment of hydrologic and water resource systems models, on-the-ground ecological restoration projects, the design of improved management and institutional arrangements, policy analysis, and legal advocacy and interventions.  


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