Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs (InVEST)


The Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs (InVEST) tool is a suite of free open source software models for the mapping and valuing of ecosystem services throughout terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. It enables decision makers to assess quantified trade-offs associated with alternative management choices and to identify areas where investment in natural capital can enhance human development and conservation.


InVEST is the main tool developed by the natural capital project in partnership with several academic collaborators including Stanford Department of Biology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences & The Nature Conservancy. The multi-service, modular design of InVEST provides an effective tool for balancing the environmental and economic goals of many stakeholders when ecosystem services are to be considered.    The toolset includes eighteen distinct ecosystem service models designed for terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and coastal ecosystems;

  • Habitat quality
  • Habitat risk assessment
  • Pollinator Abundance: Crop Pollination
  • Forest Carbon Edge Effect Model
  • Carbon Storage and Sequestration: Climate Regulation
  • Coastal Blue Carbon
  • Water Yield: Reservoir Hydropower Production
  • Nutrient Delivery Ratio Model
  • Sediment Delivery Ratio Model
  • Unobstructed Views: Scenic Quality Preservation
  • Visitation: Recreation & Tourism
  • Wave Energy Production
  • Offshore Wind Energy Production
  • Marine Finfish Aquacultural Production
  • Fisheries
  • Crop Production
  • Seasonal Water Yield Model


The software was originally developed as an ArcGIS add on in the ArcToolBox environment but all models are currently available as standalone software that is freely accessible through the developer’s website.

Running InVEST effectively does require knowledge of python programming however software such as QGIS or ArcGIS will be required to view results. The sub-models use input data (map/GIS data and information in tables) to explore how changes in ecosystems are likely to effect the flow of benefits provided to human features. Analysis can occur throughout a range of spatial resolutions ranging from local to regional and even global. 

Latest Version InVEST 3.5.0 released 14/8/17
State of Development Released and updated

Development Contact

Natural Capital Project
Stanford University


Outcome Areas Economic, Environmental, Social
Management Domains Freshwater, Coastal, Biodiversity, Land, Community
Intended End Users
  • Researcher
  • Regional Council Scientist
Spatial Resolutions 10-100m, 100-500m
Spatial Extents Local (i.e. Catchment or District), Regional, National
Spatial Dimensions 2D
Steady State or Dynamic Steady State

Input & Output Data

Key Input Data Data requirements -
Key Output Data Data Outputs -


Open/Closed Source Open Source
Licence Type No Licence

User Information

Operating Systems MS Windows, Mac OS X
Software Needed ARC GIS, QGIS
User Interface Graphical desktop
Ease of Use Moderate Requires basic to intermediate skills in GIS software
Use in Policy Process Plan (Policy Formulation), Review (Issue Identification)

Online Users Guide: Sharp, R., et. al. (2018): InVEST +VERSION+ User’s Guide. The Natural Capital Project, Stanford University, University of Minnesota, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund.

PDF Version of InVEST Users Guide

Support Website provides links to User Forum, FAQ's, training program and databases
Users Forum

Technical Considerations


Main web page:

Downloads and User Guides:

Natural Capital Project - YouTube channel - Introduction videos to InVEST Models