InVEST: 18 different models for ecosystem services

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InVEST is a suite of free, open-source software models used to map and value the goods and services from nature that sustain and fulfill human life.  If properly managed, ecosystems yield a flow of services that are vital to humanity, including the production of goods (e.g., food), life-support processes (e.g., water purification), and life-fulfilling conditions (e.g., beauty, opportunities for recreation), and the conservation of options (e.g., genetic diversity for future use).  Despite its importance, this natural capital is poorly understood, scarcely monitored, and, in many cases, undergoing rapid degradation and depletion.

InVEST enables decision makers to assess quantified tradeoffs associated with alternative management choices and to identify areas where investment in natural capital can enhance human development and conservation.  The toolset currently includes eighteen distinct ecosystem service models designed for terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and coastal ecosystems, as well as a number of “helper tools” to assist with locating and processing input data and with understanding and visualizing outputs.