Training Track

*Important: Attendees wishing to attend training sessions are encouraged to bring their own laptops and have both NatCap tools and GIS software installed. NatCap staff will be on hand each morning to assist with installation issues.

With the sequence of training sessions, we follow each step of the Natural Capital Approach, from scoping projects and preparing data, through running models, to synthesizing and communicating the results. As much as possible, we have worked to represent both marine & coastal and freshwater & terrestrial environments. Attendees are welcome to choose which training sessions they attend; those looking for the most technical exposure should plan on spending most of their time at the Symposium in the Training Track.


Day One 

8:30-12:30 Opening Plenary Sessions

1:30pm-3:00pm Getting Started with a Natural Capital Approach

  • This session is intended for those who are new to the Natural Capital Project’s approach to ecosystem service assessment. It will begin with a preview of our training offerings and guidance for how to navigate the training and learning exchange tracks at this year’s Symposium. We will also highlight the importance of early project scoping to help frame appropriate scientific and management questions, improve the quality of analytical outputs, and increase the likelihood that results are salient and accessible to stakeholders and policymakers. This introductory session will conclude with an interactive exercise called Tradeoff! In teams, attendees will compare simple, gamified illustrations of ecosystem service model outputs with the goal of balancing development and conservation objectives in coastal Belize. Bring your laptop if you’d like help installing InVEST, RIOS, OPAL or QGIS software.


3:30pm-5:00pm Getting Started with InVEST

  • This session will introduce NatCap’s primary software suite, InVEST, and walk through typical workflows, and give an overview of the various models available within it. Bring your laptop if you’d like help installing InVEST, RIOS, OPAL or QGIS software.

Day Two


Concurrent Sessions: InVEST In-Depth: Fresh water/terrestrial & InVEST In-Depth: Marine/coastal

In Depth: InVEST for Freshwater/Terrestrial Contexts

Abstract: Interested in carbon storage, freshwater supply, water purification, habitat risk assessment or pollination services? In this session, we will provide an overview of the InVEST models used for freshwater and terrestrial environments. We will first present the main features and answer participants questions on the applicability of these models for particular contexts. The second part of the session will be spent on two specific models, to illustrate in detail the steps typically involved in an ecosystem service assessment.

9:00am-10:30am FWAT InVEST Overview
11:00am-12:30pm Water Yield + Carbon
2:00pm-3:30pm Sediment + Nutrient Retention

In Depth: InVEST for Marine/Coastal Contexts

Abstract: NatCap scientists and analysts will offer a ‘firehose’ presentation on the different coastal-marine modules contained within the InVEST toolkit. After this introduction, we will break into small groups for Q&A, discussion and live demonstrations of select marine ecosystem service models. Potential discussion topics include details on the science underpinning our models and their limitations, data input requirements and how to interpret and communicate model results. This will be followed by in-depth sessions on the Habitat Risk Assessment model and the Recreation model. If you’d like additional help using marine InVEST, bring your questions and data to our coastal-marine sandbox session on Wednesday morning.

9:00am-10:30am Introduction to Marine InVEST and Deep-Dive (Wind Energy, Fisheries, and Blue Carbon, Scenic Quality)

11:00am-12:30pm Habitat Risk Assessment

Integrated management that seeks to achieve multiple objectives for people and nature requires transparent and accessible approaches for understanding the influence of human activities on ecosystems that provide these services. The InVEST Habitat Risk Assessment (HRA) model assesses cumulative risk to habitats in land and seascapes now and under future management scenarios. Outputs from the model can be used to identify risk hotspots for prioritizing conservation and restoration and siting human activities to avoid sensitive habitats. Risk results can also be used as inputs into ecosystem service models to reflect how future actions influence the ability of habitats to provide services. This session will introduce participants to the theory behind the HRA model, illustrate its application through case studies and help participants get started using the model. For more advanced users there will be an option to split off from the group and work with trainers on your own data.

2:00pm-3:30pm Recreation

Recreation and tourism are important components of economies and they contribute in many ways to quality of life. To quantify the recreational value of natural environments, the InVEST recreation model predicts the distribution of person-days of recreation, based on the locations of natural and cultural features of the landscape. This session will discuss approaches to mapping recreational use, and a technique using geotagged photographs as a measure of visitation. We will demonstrate methods for preparing input data, developing scenarios, and interpreting results, using our latest research as examples. Finally, we will discuss new developments and future directions for the InVEST Recreation model. Participants will have the opportunity to get feedback on their own projects.

Day Three

Concurrent Sessions: FWAT InVEST and Marine InVEST and Scenarios


Abstract: Work through hands-on exercises, using several representative InVEST models.

9:00a-10:30am Hands-On: FWAT InVEST
11:00am-12:30pm Hand-On: FWAT InVEST continued

Hands-On: Marine InVEST

Abstract: Work through hands-on exercises, using several representative InVEST models.
9:00am-10:30am Hands-On: Coastal Vulnerability
11:00a-12:30pm Hands-on/Sandbox: Marine InVEST

Hands-On: Scenarios

Abstract: Scenarios are storylines that depict future events and states. They provide insight into the future and help shape imagination about uncertain future events. This is invaluable for shaping decisions on natural resource management. There are many approaches and tools for developing scenarios and a big community of experts, researchers and other conservation practitioners who can benefit from these tools and approaches. The ScenarioHub is a web application developed for this community to meet the following needs: i) act as a resource that provides introductory information on scenarios and the process of developing them, ii) provide a means of documenting scenarios iii) provide a tool for generating the InVEST Scenario Generator input files, iv) presents a database of scenario tools and v) provide a collaborative space for scenario development.
9:00am-10:30am Hands-On: Scenarios
11:00am-12:30pm Hands-On: Scenarios continued

Communicating Natural Capital Information

Abstract:  NatCap’s communications lead Stacey Solie will talk about why good stories are essential to communicating memorably. Drawing from the latest research and from personal experience, Solie will lay out the evidence and offer story-telling tips and pointers. The class will then split into small groups where participants can practice and hone their own natural capital stories.

2:00pm-3:30pm Bringing it All Together: Communicating Natural Capital Information