• Length:
    1 Weeks
  • Effort:
    8–10 hours per week
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    Add a Verified Certificate for $50 USD

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  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time


There are no prerequisites for this course. However, we recommend that you download InVEST and GIS software (either QGIS or ArcGIS). You do not need to have a background in GIS to learn the NatCap Approach, but knowing how to use GIS software is crucial for preparing spatial inputs to the InVEST models, viewing and understanding model output, and post-processing the output to provide meaningful results. Running the InVEST models themselves does not require a GIS; all of the tools are independent applications. InVEST is built to run in a Windows and Mac environment.

This MOOC is built off a previous version, NCP101: An Introduction to the Natural Capital Approach that was offered from January 2016 to July 2019, authored by Gregg Verutes, Adrian Vogl, and Henry Borrebach.

About this course

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Meet your instructors

Gretchen Daily
Bing Professor In Environmental Science and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment
Stanford University
Stacie Wolny
Senior Geographic Info Systems Specialist, Woods Research Natural Capital Project
Stanford University
Jess Silver
Ecosystem Services Analyst, Woods Research Natural Capital Project
Stanford University
Roy Remme
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology, Woods Research Natural Capital Project
Stanford University

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Frequently asked questions

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

While this course is designed to be taken sequentially from Module 1 to Module 4, we recognize that each student has their own individual learning priorities. As a learner, some modules may be more relevant to you than others, so while we hope you will move through the course as it was designed, we encourage you to spend time in the modules that you find most valuable.

In Module 2 we have chosen three InVEST models that span the three primary contexts in which we have designed InVEST to be used: (1) freshwater and terrestrial systems, (2) coastal and marine systems, and (3) urban environments. We chose models that are different from one another. Even if you are not interested in one of these three models, experience running each of them will give you a good foundation for learning any of the other models in the InVEST suite.

Do I need to buy a textbook?

The course is free to take but the certificate of completion cost $50 (USD). Links to download all necessary course materials and tools are provided within each module.

How long should it take to complete this course?

The course is divided into four modules. It should take approximately two to three hours to finish each module and about eight to ten hours to complete the entire course.