2016 Natural Capital Symposium

This year's Natural Capital Symposium, March 21-24, is fast approaching. Check out who's speaking and register to attend here.
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.

From National Security To Green Roofs: Q & A With Jessica Hellman

Jessica Hellman, Director, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota
Last fall you became the Director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, one of NatCap's four partner institutions. But not everyone may realize that you also spent time at Stanford where you earned a Ph.D. in biology alongside one of NatCap's co-founders.  
Taylor Ricketts and I are academic siblings. We were both in Paul Ehrlich's lab, we started the same year, we shared an office a good portion of the time, we graduated the same year and we were close friends in graduate school. I've been listening to conversations about natural capital since long before The Natural Capital Project existed.
You also did a fellowship at Stanford's Center for Security and Cooperation (CSAC), which seems surprising for a biologist.
CSAC was working on international security. A lot of people there were working on weapons proliferation and conflict, but I went in with a proposal that the environment is an important part of what it means to be secure. I was the only person there thinking that was the case. At the time it was quite controversial. People said that the evidence was not great. People said, it's really political problems that cause conflict. That may be true, but there's a lot more acknowledgement now that the environment can be a very important aggravator. We know things like addressing historic injustice, social injustice, and political stability are very important to sustaining or building peace, but we also know that people need to live in healthy communities, they need to grow food and they need to drink water and that's also about the biophysical environment. It was fun to be in that policy setting as a scientist...


Growing NatCap's Collaborations: Patagonia's Miguel Pascual

Miguel Pascual guiding NatCappers during a visit to Argentina
Miguel Pascual is a key NatCap collaborator based in Argentina, where he is a senior scientist at Argentina's National Research Council (CONICET), a researcher at the Centro Nacional Patagónico , and an ecology professor at the National University of Patagonia San Juan Bosco.
Miguel grew up in Argentina going with his father--a famous paleontologist--to dig for fossils in Patagonia, where he fell in love with the landscape and nature.  We've been friends since graduate school at the University of Washington, where he earned a PhD in Fisheries. 
Now, he runs the Conservation of River Ecosystems of Patagonia Project, a network that connects provincial watershed managers, fisheries, and other regional experts with scientists. Together, they are developing information and recommendations for action to reverse the degradation of  the major rivers of Patagonia.
On a visit to Patagonia two years ago, Miguel generously guided me and other Natcappers through... 


Who Is Using InVEST? And Why?

Growth in the use of InVEST models over time. Model use occurred in 102 different countries with 44% of all use occurring in the U.S. For non-U.S. countries, there were 14,301 model runs with 43% of use occurring in 5 countries: the UK (1554), Germany (1491), China (1209), France (1074), and Colombia (780). Credit: Posner et al.

Since NatCap's founding, staff have worked relentlessly to create and share tools that will give people the information they need to understand exactly how nature is benefitting them, and how that could change under different future scenarios.
Ten years into the project, is NatCap's software really being put to work? If so, where? And what factors might determine its use?
These questions are at the heart of a new study, published in the journal Ecosystem Services, which analyzes NatCap's InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs) software usage over two years.  Although NatCap has tracked downloads of InVEST and other software for quite some time, digging into information on actual model runs provides a whole new level of understanding...

Posner, Steven, Gregory Verutes, Insu Koh, Doug Denu and Taylor Ricketts
Ecosystem Services 17: 131-141. February 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.12.003


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

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

One size does not fit all: Natural infrastructure investments within the Latin American Water Funds Partnerships
Bremer, Leah L., Dan A. Auerbach, Joshua H. Goldstein, Adrian L. Vogl, Daniel Shemie, Timm Kroeger, Joanna L. Nelson, Silvia P. Benítezg, Alejandro Calvacheh, João Guimarãesi, Colin Herronj, Jonathan Higginsk, Claudio Klemzl, Jorge Leónm, Juan Sebastián Lozanoh, Pedro H. Morenon, Francisco Nuñezo, Fernando Veigap and Gilberto Tiepoloq
Ecosystem Services 17: 217-236. February 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.12.006

Minnesota Daily, February 2, 2016

Basil D. N. Waugh, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, January 31, 2016

Sandra Postel, National Geographic: Water Currents, January 28, 2016

Brent Crane, The Phnom Penh Post, January 26, 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  contact@naturalcapitalproject.org.