A collaborative effort between Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment, the Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund has been awarded a two-year, $1.97 million grant to develop software for mapping and evaluating the economic benefits of temperate marine ecosystems. The effort, called the Natural Capital Project, will develop the Marine Integrated Valuation of Ecosystems Services and Tradeoffs (Marine InVEST) program, which is designed to give policymakers and other stakeholders an easy way to calculate the multiple benefits people derive from ocean ecosystems and incorporate those values into the planning process. Natural Capital Project lead scientist Heather Tallis says Marine InVEST will give people the ability to view a comprehensive ocean management plan and determine the monetary consequences of different courses of action in a variety of ecosystem services, including fishing, shoreline preservation, shipping, tourism, and recreation. Tallis says that when the software is ready next year it will be tested at a coastal site in California or British Columbia. Earlier this year, the Natural Capital Project released a beta version of a land-based InVEST resource planning program, which will serve as the technical framework for Marine InVEST. "We're now testing and refining InVEST for major resource decisions in landscapes around the world," says Natural Capital Project chair Gretchen Daily. "There is tremendous demand for this tool and approach to guide strategic investment in natural capital.
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