2016 Natural Capital Symposium

This year's Natural Capital Symposium, March 21-24, at Stanford University, is fast approaching. Check out who's speaking and register to attend here, or submit a poster 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 NatCap's latest 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. The latest version 0.2.1 fixes several bugs. 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.

Q&A With WWF's Tom Dillon
Tom Dillon, WWF Senior Vice President, Forest and Freshwater, and member of The Natural Capital Project Governing Committee
When The Natural Capital Project was starting up, you worked with co-founder Taylor Ricketts to recommend pilot project locations, and picked Sumatra, Borneo, Colombia, and the Mekong, among others. How did you narrow the whole planet of options down to those few spots?

I was looking for opportunities where we could make policy change, through providing good information about the tradeoffs on ecosystem services. In Sumatra, for example, there was an ecological zoning process going on across the ten provinces of the island. Basically it was a land-use planning process, writ large, that the government was conducting. In the past 15 years, Sumatra has undergone the highest rates of deforestation. Trying to get land use zoning that could prevent further large-scale deforestation was really important. It was an opportune time, where a tool like InVEST could make a difference.

What difference did NatCap and using InVEST make in Sumatra?

It meant that there was a discussion based on better facts and better data and better forecasts, and so we were able to influence plans. One problem there--and in some other parts of the world--is governance and corruption. Even with the best plans, it doesn't mean that's what will be implemented, but better plans and more awareness of the benefits from ecosystems definitely was important. One reflection of that would be that the entity responsible for more deforestation than any other, Asia Pulp and Paper, committed to no longer converting natural forest into plantations. And Asia Pulp and Paper has promised to restore one million hectares. Those are huge commitments. NatCap wasn't the only agent involved in getting us there, but it was certainly one that was helpful...

On Carbon & Travel

If my seatback map was correct, that is the equator, as seen from my flight from Dubai to Cape Town. Photo credit: Henry Borrebach

"Look here," said the Medical Man, "are you in earnest about this? Do you seriously believe that that machine has travelled into time?"  "Certainly," said the Time Traveller...
                                                                                 --H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

Every time I book a flight, whether it's to travel to Italy or South Africa for a NatCap workshop or back to Pennsylvania for a brother's wedding (the highlights of my 2015 travel year), my first and strongest feeling is a wince of guilt. My carbon footprint feels (and is) deepest when I travel by jetliner. At the same time, I am regularly astounded by taking flight, and brought into an intimacy not only with modern technology, but with what it means to be alive in a time when our worldview includes seeing the clouds from above.

Transcontinental flights strike me as more akin to time travel than any other form of transportation. To wit: I departed San Francisco on a Saturday afternoon, and when I landed in Cape Town, it was still the afternoon, but the calendar had moved ahead by two days. We are living in the future that minds like H.G. Wells predicted a century ago...


NatCap Research Shows World Forest Carbon Stocks Overestimated

Fragmented forests in Myanmar suffer reduced carbon storage capacity following deforestation for roads, timber, or agriculture. Photo credit: Lisa Mandle
Forests provide many benefits, including regulating the climate by converting atmospheric carbon into living plant material like trees, shrubs, ground cover, and roots. Research by NatCap and collaborators published in Nature Communications shows that scientists have been overestimating that benefit.
The new findings apply to tropical forests where people have cleared trees--usually for roads, timber, or agriculture. This fragmentation creates more dry, sparse forest vegetation, which holds less carbon.
"This is the first predictive study of how exactly carbon storage changes with distance from forest edge," said lead author Becky Chaplin-Kramer, a researcher at The Natural Capital Project , at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment .
Co-author Paul West of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment highlights a solution: "Targeting forest conservation and restoration efforts to fill in the gaps is a win-win for both the climate and natural habitat."

Co-authors include Richard Sharp and Lisa Mandle of The Natural Capital Project; Nick M. Haddad of North Carolina State University; Ivan Ramler of St. Lawrence University; James S. Gerber and Peder Engstrom of the University of Minnesota; Alessandro Baccini of Woods Hole Research Center; and Sarah Sim, Carina Mueller and Henry King of Unilever.

Chaplin-Kramer, Rebecca, Ivan Ramler, Richard Sharp, Nick M. Haddad, James S. Gerber, Paul C. West, Lisa Mandle, Peder Engstrom, Alessandro Baccini, Sarah Sim, Carina Mueller and Henry King
Nature Communications 6:10158.  December 18, 2015. doi:10.1038/ncomms10158

Todd Reubold, UMN Institute on the Environment, December 21, 2015

Stacey Solie, Stanford Report, December 18, 2015


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

Monique Dubos, UMN Institute on the Environment, January 20, 2016

Brauman, Kate A., Brian D. Richter, Sandra Postel, Marcus Malsy and Martina Flörke
Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. 4: 000083. January 20, 2016. doi: 10.12952/journal.elementa.000083

Winemiller, K. O., P. B. McIntyre, L. Castello, E. Fluet-Chouinard, T. Giarrizzo, S. Nam, I. G. Baird, W. Darwall, N. K. Lujan, I. Harrison, M. L. J. Stiassny, R. A. M. Silvano, D. B. Fitzgerald, F. M. Pelicice, A. A. Agostinho, L. C. Gomes, J. S. Albert, E. Baran, M. Petrere Jr., C. Zarfl, M. Mulligan, J. P. Sullivan, C. C. Arantes, L. M. Sousa, A. A. Koning, D. J. Hoeinghaus, M. Sabaj, J. G. Lundberg, J. Armbruster, M. L. Thieme, P. Petry, J. Zuanon, G. Torrente Vilara, J. Snoeks, C. Ou, W. Rainboth, C. S. Pavanelli, A. Akama, A. van Soesbergen and L. Sáenz
Science 351:128-129. January 8, 2016. doi:10.1126/science.aac7082

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX, January 5, 2016

Koh, Insu, Eric V. Lonsdorf, Neal M. Williams, Claire Brittain, Rufus Isaacs, Jason Gibbs and Taylor H. Ricketts
PNAS 113:140-145. January 5, 2016. doi:10.1073/pnas.1517685113

Monique Dubos, UMN Institute on the Environment, December 23, 2015

Griffin, Robert and Christopher Anderson
Strategic Behavior and the Environment 5:215-253. December 22, 2015. doi: 10.1561/102.00000061

Marc N. Conte, Gretchen C. Daily,  Peter J. Dennedy-Frank,  Bradley A. Eichelberger,  Yonas B. Ghile,  Gail M. Kaiser,  Shan Ma,  Brynn W. McNally,  Elizabeth M. Rauer,  Mary H. Ruckelshaus,  Guy Ziv and Jennifer M. Duggan 
ESTCP Project RC-201113. April 2015.

Joanna Nelson, Cool Green Science, December 4, 2015


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

Jobs In Natural Capital

The Nature Conservancy and the University of Washington seek an accomplished conservation leader to serve in a joint position as the Lead Scientist for the Nature Conservancy in Washington and Professor of Practice (#0120) in the University of Washington, College of The Environment's School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) and Center for Creative Conservation. 

The School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) at the University of Washington seeks to fill a tenure-track position at the Assistant Professor (#0116) level with specialization in the areas of nature, health, and recreation.

The University of Washington's School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) invites applications for a full-time (9-month; 100% FTE) tenure-track Assistant Professor (#0116) position to begin Autumn 2016. This position, with a focus on Forest Ecosystem Science and Services, is part of a University of Washington/College of the Environment initiative to strengthen its teaching and research capability in the areas of forest ecosystems, renewable energy, and sustainable technologies.

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.