Natural Capital Project
The Natural Capital Project (NatCap) develops simple, use-driven approaches to valuing nature, works closely with decision makers, and provides free, open source ecosystem service software tools to a broad community of users. They are a partnership combining research innovation at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota with the global reach of conservation science and policy at The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. NatCap works with leaders around the world to test and demonstrate how accounting for nature's benefits can support more sustainable investment and policy decisions.
NatCap has developed practical, science-based approaches and software tools that quantify, map, and value services provided by nature. InVEST - Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs - is a suite of software models used to map and value ecosystem services. The toolset currently includes sixteen distinct InVEST models suited to terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems - and can be downloaded for free from NatCap's website. InVEST models are spatially-explicit, using maps as information sources and producing maps as outputs. InVEST returns results in either biophysical terms (e.g., tons of carbon sequestered) or economic terms (e.g., net present value of that sequestered carbon). The spatial resolution of analyses is also flexible, allowing users to address questions at local, regional, or global scales.
NatCap has informed decisions relating to spatial planning, payment for ecosystem services, climate adaptation planning, impact assessments for permitting and mitigation, corporate risk mitigation, marine and coastal planning, and habitat restoration. Their principal engagements thus far have been in Belize, Canada, China, Eastern Africa, Latin America, Indonesia, and the U.S.
Accounting for ecosystem services reveals the diverse benefits provided by nature, clarifies tradeoffs between alternative development scenarios, and helps people make more informed decisions about how to use lands and waters. NatCap aims to integrate the values of nature into all major decisions affecting the environment and human well-being. Their ultimate objective is to improve the state of biodiversity and human well-being by motivating greater and more cost-effective investments in both.
Phone: (650) 725-1783