Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this course. However, we recommend that you download InVEST and GIS software (either QGIS or ArcGIS). GIS is not mandatory if you do not intend to follow the technical examples or complete the optional assessments contained in modules 3 and 4. Please note that at this time, InVEST is built to run in a Windows environment.

About this course

Skip About this course

People depend on nature to sustain and fulfill human life, yet the values of nature are typically ignored in decisions. Mapping and modeling ecosystem services can help highlight the diverse benefits provided to people by nature (what and where) and explore how those benefits might change under different management options--thus bringing information about nature’s values into decisions in practical ways. With these approaches, we can improve the state of biodiversity and human well-being by motivating greater and more cost-effective investments in both.

This course introduces the Natural Capital Project’s (NatCap’s) approach to using ecosystem service information to inform decisions. It uses specific examples to illustrate how the approach has worked in each case and highlights key methods and tools used in implementation.

Split into four modules, NC101 first introduces the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services, the stocks and flows of vital benefits flowing from nature to people. The second module describes InVEST, NatCap’s software tool for mapping, modeling, and valuing ecosystem services. In addition, it provides guidance on project scoping and on matching approaches and tools to a project’s goals, decision context, timeline, capacity, and quality of data available. Modules 3-4 offer an overview of the skills needed to use InVEST models, including recommendations for how to effectively summarize and communicate model outputs to stakeholders and other audiences.

Intended Audience

This course is intended for those interested in how natural capital approaches can inform decisions taken by governments, multi-lateral development institutions, the private and finance sectors, and non-governmental organizations. It can be a resource for individuals interested in simply learning about these concepts or for those interested in using the NatCap’s approaches and tools in research or to influence decisions. This course can also serve as a primer for those individuals planning to attend one of our in-person training workshops in the future.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn

You will learn how natural capital approaches can inform decisions taken by governments, multi-lateral development institutions, the private and finance sectors, and non-governmental organizations.

Meet your instructors

Adrian Vogl
Senior Scientist
Stanford University

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to complete all the modules in the course?

While the lessons contained in each of the four modules are intended to stand alone, we strongly encourage all participants to begin by reading through the Course Roadmap. This section explains how the course is organized and provides important background information about the two case study examples included throughout. To launch the Course Roadmap, click the "Start here" button on the top-left panel of the Courseware.

Do I need to buy a textbook?

This course is completely free. Links to download all the necessary course materials and tools are provided within each unit.

How long should it take to complete this course?

The course is divided into four modules. It should take approximately one hour to finish each module and about four hours to complete the entire course.