Photo credit: © amor_kar / Adobe Stock
Happy Holidays from NatCap
Mary Ruckelshaus, December 14, 2016

Giving gifts with meaning is what is on my mind this holiday season. Nature of course gives us gifts every day--- from food, water, and protection, to spiritual sustenance and just knowing that amazing biodiversity is out in the world.

NatCap's work is based on the conviction that it is in our best interest to care for nature, because nature cares for us. We are a network of scientists and practitioners who work with communities, governments, and business leaders to incorporate nature's value into their management, policies, and investments. Through this work, we are seeing better outcomes for both people and ecosystems. That is good news this holiday season.

Holidays are a time to reflect on the things that are most important to us. In many places where the NatCap network is engaging around the world, the environment is not at the top of people's list of biggest concerns. NatCap's approach is first to ask 'What do you care most about? What do you want your future to look like?' When asked those questions, citizens of Andros Island in The Bahamas listed transport to markets, sustainable local livelihoods, and better access to health care and education for their kids as the most critical needs for that country's development planning effort. The solutions to meeting those many needs include restoring and protecting the vital ecosystems--- coppice forests, mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs--- that shield coastal roads from storm damage and nurture lobster, sponges, bone fish, and freshwater crabs that support fisheries and tourism livelihoods and associated businesses.

NatCappers, working with The Bahamas' Office of the Prime Minister, the Inter-American Development Bank, and The Nature Conservancy, are shining a light on the ways that these many benefits from ecosystems can provide resilience to the fabric of life on islands. A troupe of NatCappers is there as I write this letter, and reports are that our trainings are bursting at the seams, with experts from diverse government ministries and communities engaging heartily in our Best Coast Belize! game and hands-on software exercises. One of the best gifts we can give is to empower local leaders to include nature in their decisions, so that they internalize tradeoff decisions and their outcomes.

A similar story is playing out in Mozambique, where basic human development needs are driving 'green economy' planning for infrastructure, water, and energy needs in the face of changing climate and global geopolitics. The Mozambique government, experts from the University of Eduardo Mondlane, and the World Wildlife Fund are beginning a development planning process designed to use the country's natural assets to support a thriving economy and people. The Mozambiquans are dictating what their country will look like in the future, and under their leadership, NatCap is helping to build the capacity to ensure nature is included in policies and investments to secure their economy and communities.

Closer to home, scientists at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and TNC are working together to support targeted conservation--- for example through stream bank protection and wetland restoration--- under the $10 million Minnesota Headwaters Fund. NatCap's InVEST suite of ecosystem service models is being used to more efficiently and strategically plan the fund's investments.

NatCap brings new science expertise and decision support software to these challenges--- but we also bring games. The games are some of our most popular early-engagement tools to help people see how our many demands on nature can be harmonized with smart planning and investments, or how to talk about cases where tradeoffs occur. At later stages of working together, we can help by applying InVEST and other models to map and value natural assets in a place, or simply empowering others to do it themselves through training and capacity building.

But mostly, people across the NatCap network bring genuine compassion, fun, and good listening skills to our engagements. The compassion we bring is a wonderful combination of trust and faith and hope. The world needs more of that. We've learned it's best to start where people are in hearing their concerns, have fun in learning together through games and other engagements, and help to shine a light on nature's many gifts.

I wish you peace at home, in your communities, and in nature this holiday season.

Mary Ruckelshaus
NatCap's Managing Director
What Will Climate Change & Development Mean For The Arctic?
In light of these rapid climate-driven changes, the Natural Capital Project is working with World Wildlife Fund (one of our founding partners), and with the support of a global investment and advisory firm, Guggenheim Partners, to gather information for an initiative that aims to lay foundations for inclusive, informed decision-making in the Arctic. The team is actively seeking additional partners...

Photo credit: Roxanne Desgagnés / Unsplash

InVEST is o ur flagship tool with 18 different models for mapping and valuing ecosystem services. Check out all our software at
2017 Natural Capital Symposium

In addition to the holidays, the end of the calendar year also puts our annual Natural Capital Symposium clearly on the horizon (March 20-23, 2017, at Stanford University). The 2017 edition is sure to be another fantastic event. You've heard already in previous newsletters about the focus on mental health at the 2017 Symposium, as well as keynote speakers Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, and Carter Roberts, President and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund, but many other sessions with exciting panels of speakers from around the globe have come together as well.

Featured topics include sustainable development innovations around the world, community dependence on ecosystems, securing freshwater through public and private partnerships, climate change and ecosystem services, private financing for sustainable development, and new frontiers in natural capital science and application. In addition, we'll offer hands-on sessions featuring various InVEST models and their use in real decisions around the world. Poster sessions, discussion groups, and other session formats ensure that no matter how you like to interact, there's something for you.

Each year we're awed by the passion, expertise, and hope of the assembled community. To read more about the 2017 Natural Capital Symposium, please visit our website.

As a special holiday gift, we are extending the early bird registration deadline to December 22nd. Register today to take advantage of the reduced fee! Whether you've come in the past or haven't yet joined us, we'd love to have you.

Photo credit: Paul Brest Hall
Recent Press & Publications

Nature is priceless, so let's value it
by Anne Guerry, GreenBiz, November 23, 2016

Toward a national, sustained U.S. ecosystem assessment
Jackson, Stephen T., Clifford S. Duke, Stephanie E. Hampton, Katharine L. Jacobs, Lucas N. Joppa, Karim-Aly S. Kassam, Harold A. Mooney, Laura A. Ogden, Mary Ruckelshaus and Jason F. Shogren
Science 354:838-839. November 18, 2016. doi: 10.1126/science.aah5750

Drought resistance across California ecosystems: evaluating changes in carbon dynamics using satellite imagery
Malone, Sparkle L., Mirela G. Tulbure, Antonio J. Pérez-Luque, Timothy J. Assal, Leah L. Bremer, Debora P. Drucker, Vicken Hillis, Sara Varela and Michael L. Goulden
Ecosphere 7(11). November 16, 2016. doi: 10.1002/ecs2.1561

Vogl, Adrian L., Benjamin P. Bryant, Johannes E. Hunink, Stacie Wolny, Colin Apse and Peter Droogers
Journal of Environmental Management. Available online November 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.10.013

For more news stories and publications, check out Our Library. Access 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 .