Software Tools

InVEST is a free and open-source software suite developed by the Natural Capital Project. You can download the latest version of InVEST here.



OPAL is a free and open-source software for mitigating development impacts. You can download the latest version of OPAL here.



RIOS is a software tool that helps design cost-effective investments in watershed services. You can download the latest version of RIOS here.



We developed

 PyGeoProcessing to create a programmable, open source, and free GIS processing library to support the ecosystem service software InVEST. Users can pip install PyGeoProcessing, upgrade or download the package here

NatCap Forums
For help using InVEST, OPAL and RIOS, visit the   NatCap Forums , our online user community.
Newsletter Archive
Check out NatCap's previous newsletters in Our Library.

Belize Coastal Plan a Model for the World

Belize recently approved a coastal management plan that's projected to improve coastal protection from storms and increase revenue from fisheries and tourism. At the same time, the plan improves protection for mangroves, coral reefs, and seagrass beds--the natural capital upon which the coast depends.


In February, Katie Arkema flew to Belize to celebrate the central government's approval of the country's new coastal plan.

The endorsement by Belize's deputy prime minister, essentially the vice-president, marks a major milestone for Belize, for the Natural Capital Project, and for coastal planning. Fanny Douvere of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) dubbed the plan " one of the most forward-thinking ocean management plans in the world."

Arkema and other Marine Team NatCap staff started working behind the scenes in Belize more than six years ago to do the science and community engagement underpinning this plan. The most exciting thing about the announcement, Arkema said, was the public recognition by the government that coastal resources are fundamental to their national economic development.

"In order to sustain a growing population and develop their country in a way that reflects what their constituencies really want, they're counting on the benefits that these ecosystems are providing," Arkema said.

One of the biggest challenges of good coastal planning...


Natural Capital Symposium Sets New Agenda

After the first day of talks, symposium attendees roamed the poster session, learning about projects to account for natural capital around the world. Here, Seong Do Yun, a post-doc at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, explains his research.
The Natural Capital Symposium at Stanford last month was the largest we've ever hosted, and by many accounts, the most inspiring.

The talks ranged from explorations of science frontiers to the deeply personal.

Managing Director Mary Ruckelshaus started the week off by first asking participants to one by one, stand up and introduce themselves. As nearly 300 people from 31 countries took their turn, it gave everyone a chance to appreciate how far people had traveled to be together and just how diverse the perches and perspectives of the assembled community were.

Ruckelshaus also encouraged the audience to consider three things over the course of the week: "Think about the biggest game-changing successes and inspirational stories we want to tell one another; the biggest impediments and challenges we're facing; and consider how...


Why Social Science is the Key to Changing Everything

Recent research suggests we should pay even more attention to the process of how scientists, policy-makers, and stakeholders engage around natural capital information to co-develop solutions. How these processes unfold has a big influence on whether the information ends up informing decisions. Here, Paulo Petry of TNC, engages a community in a water monitoring training session for the Agua Por La Vida water fund in the Cauca Valley.

Recently, Stephen Posner, Emily McKenzie, and Taylor Ricketts published research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examining the conditions that lead to natural capital information being used in policy and decision-making. Here, we talk to Emily McKenzie about what it means.

Your main finding is that the credibility of natural capital science and other factors were not nearly as important as whether stakeholders perceived the science to be trustworthy, fair, and unbiased. Did that surprise you?

I'm not sure that we learned anything we didn't already know in our guts, but it's helpful to test our assumptions.

The big outcomes described in NatCap's new strategic plan--that include transforming supply chains and commodity standards, and development plans at the scale of entire countries--are enormously ambitious. We will still need robust ecosystem service science and innovation to achieve these outcomes. But the needs for biophysical science pale in comparison to solving c hallenges with practical implementation. Like getting scientists, stakeholders, and policy-makers to interact regularly, understand each other, and jointly create solutions-and establishing effective governance for natural capital...

Policy impacts of ecosystem services knowledge
Posner, Stephen M., Emily McKenzie and Taylor H. Ricketts
PNAS 113:1760-1765. February 2016. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1502452113


Johnson, Kris A., Brent J. Dalzell, Marie Donahue, Jesse Gourevitch, Dennis L. Johnson, Greg S. Karlovits, Bonnie Keeler and Jason T. Smith
Ecosystem Services. 18:175-185. April 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2016.03.004

Rusch, Adrien, Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Mary M. Gardiner, Violetta Hawro, John Holland, Douglas Landis, Carsten Thies, Teja Tscharntke, Wolfgang W. Weisser, Camilla Winqvist, Megan Woltz and Riccardo Bommarco
Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 221:198-204. April 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2016.01.039

by Monique Dubos, UMN Institute on the Environment, April 6, 2016

by IUCN Communications, March 31, 2016

by Marie Donahue, UMN Institute on the Environment, March 16, 2016

For more news stories and publications, check out Our Library. A ccess to full articles may require library access. 

Thank you for your continued interest in The Natural Capital Project. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at