About Us
The Natural Capital Project (NatCap) works to develop scientifically rigorous approaches to incorporate natural capital into decisions, create innovative software tools to model, map, and value nature's benefits to society, and engage influential leaders to advance change in policy and practice. We are a strategic partnership that combines leading environmental and social science research at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, with the global reach of science and conservation projects at The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.   


Integrated Valuation of Environmental Services and Tradeoffs

(InVEST) is a free and open-source software suite developed by the Natural Capital Project. It maps and values the goods and services from nature that contribute to sustaining and fulfilling human well being. Version 2.5.4 was released on June 7, 2013 and contains both ArcGIS dependent and standalone tools. Check out our website to see which models are available in which platform.

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InVEST Trainings
Bali - InVEST and Sub-Global Assessment (SGA) Network Training Workshop
Aug. 30 - Sep. 1st
UK- InVEST Training
October 14-18
Wallingford, England

Newsletter Archive
Check out NatCap's previous newsletters in our Newsletter Archive.

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Investing in Nature for Water Security


NatCap and our partners at The Nature Conservancy recently launched a new tool - the Resource Investment Optimization System (RIOS) - to help people make smart investments in nature for water security. RIOS is a free and open source software tool that supports the design of cost-effective investments in watershed services to provide clean and ample water supplies for cities, farmers, and businesses.


Water is one of the scarcest resources on the planet; and demand for water will only grow as the global population grows, people's standards of living improve, and climate changes. Every year, $400 billion is spent on water infrastructure worldwide. People are starting to recognize that investments in nature as part of a comprehensive approach to water management are a cost-effective way to secure clean water for the future 

RIOS: Resource Investment Optimization System



Earlier this month, The Natural Capital Project and the Latin American Water Funds Partnership (a partnership among The Nature Conservancy, the Inter-American Development Bank, Global Environment Facility and the FEMSA Foundation) held events in Washington, DC and Panama City, Panama to launch NatCap's newest software tool: RIOS.


RIOS provides a standardized, science-based approach to watershed management. It combines biophysical, social, and economic data to help users identify the best locations for protection and restoration activities in order to maximize the ecological return on investment, within the bounds of what is socially and politically feasible.


The Inter-America Development Bank (IDB) hosted a high-profile RIOS launch event at their headquarters in Washington, DC, where Luis Alberto Moreno, the President of the IDB, and Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, talked about how excited they were about RIOS, and how helpful it will be in making investment and conservation decisions. The Latin American Water Funds Partnership launched RIOS at their meeting in Panama City, which was followed by a RIOS training for water fund managers in Latin America.


NatCap began developing RIOS in collaboration with the Latin American Water Funds Partnership in 2011. We drew from the experiences of water fund practitioners from over a dozen different funds and field scientists to create a widely applicable tool that is immediately relevant to those engaged in directing investments in watershed management projects on the ground. 


Early tests of the RIOS approach in Colombia resulted in watershed investments up to six times more effective than typical investment approaches. RIOS enables watershed investors to use a replicable, transparent, and stakeholder-driven approach to evaluate projects, making it easier to track the places where their investments are most needed and most effective.


RIOS remains under active development as we continue to make improvements even after the launch. To learn more about RIOS, read an article on RIOS featured on Stanford's home page, check out our website, and download the tool 
NatCap Forums
NatCap is proud to introduce NatCap Forums, a great new way to connect with us, as well as other people around the world using our approach and tools.  The Forum is a place for ecosystem service practitioners, InVEST users, and people interested in natural capital valuation to ask questions, discuss ideas, and help one another move the field forward. The forum was designed to be an online community for people interested in NatCap's approach to determining ecosystem service supply and valuation, user support for our software including InVEST and RIOS, a place for people to get help with their data needs, and a space to foster collaboration among ecosystem service scientists and practitioners. We hope that you will be as excited about the Forum as we are, and hope that you will register and participate in this growing online community.
Investing in Natural Capital


On August 15th, leaders of the Natural Capital Project and The Nature Conservancy will talk about how they are using the power of open-source software to transform how leaders around the world include the value of natural capital in decisions, and how that is improving outcomes for biodiversity and human wellbeing. 


Mary Ruckelshaus, NatCap's Managing Director, Rich Sharp, NatCap's Lead Software Developer, and Heather Tallis, Lead Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, will be speaking at 6pm on August 15th at the San Francisco office of the Commonwealth Club of California. It's going to be an exciting talk, so if you're in the Bay Area, we hope you will be able to make it, if not, a podcast of the event will be available.  Tickets are now available, and are free to students with a valid Student ID.  
Recent  Press and Publications


Using 'Nature as an Asset' to Balance Costa Rica's Farming With Preservation

PBS NewsHour

Featuring NatCap's Gretchen Daily

AIR DATE: June 10, 2013 


Yield Trends Are Insufficient to Double Global Crop Production by 2050

Deepak K. Ray, Nathaniel D. Mueller, Paul C. West, and Jonathan A. Foley

PLoS ONE 8(6): e66428 


Managing Wild Resources: Institutional Choice and the Recovery of Resource Rent in Southwest China

Robinson BE, Provencher B, Lewis DJ

World Development 48:120-132 


Impact of climate extremes on hydrological ecosystem services in a heavily humanized Mediterranean basin 

M. Terrado, V. Acuņa, D. Ennaanay,  H. Tallis and S. Sabatera

Ecological Indicators, In Press 


*Access to full articles may require library access. 


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