This Editorial presents the focus, scope and policies of the inaugural issue of Nature Conservation, a new open access, peer-reviewed journal bridging natural sciences, social sciences and hands-on applications in conservation management. The journal covers all aspects of nature conservation and aims particularly at facilitating better interaction between scientists and practitioners. The journal will impose no restrictions on manuscript size or the use of colour. We will use an XML-based editorial workflow and several cutting-edge innovations in publishing and information dissemination. These include semantic mark-up of, and enhancements to published text, data, and extensive cross-linking within the journal and to external sources. We believe the journal will make an important contribution to better linking science and practice, offers rapid, peer-reviewed and flexible publication for authors and unrestricted access to content. Copyright Klaus Henle et al.