More than 40 scientists from across Europe have spent the week at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology’s site in Wallingford being trained in how to map and value the goods and services from nature that are essential for sustaining and fulfilling human life.
The training course organised by CEH, working with the Wessex BESS research consortium and the US-based Natural Capital Project, is focused on the Integrated Valuation of Environmental Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) model, which is a free and open source software suite aimed at informing and improving natural resource management and investment decisions.
InVEST, developed in the US, currently includes 16 models that analyze different aspects of marine and terrestrial environments. It enables decision-makers to assess the trade-offs associated with alternative choices and to identify areas where investment in natural capital can enhance human development and conservation in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.
On Monday 80 people attended a one-day introduction to InVEST, and 42 have completed the longer four-day course. Around a third of the participants have travelled to the UK, mainly from around Europe and the trainees comprise a mix of academics, consultants, government policy and research scientists.
As well as the Natural Capital Project team a number of external speakers have presented during the course including representatives of the UK government's Natural Capital Committee, RSPB, JNCC, Oxford University and the Director of the BESS (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Sustainability) research programme, Prof Dave Raffaelli.
Course organiser, Dr Tom Oliver from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said, “We’re very pleased to be running this course at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. International researchers are using CEH’s many and varied data resources to apply the InVEST model in a European context. As well as building new collaborations between US and European research groups, we’re also building capacity in the integrated mapping and valuing of goods and services from nature, that are essential for sustaining and fulfilling human life. This transdisciplinary approach, engaging stakeholders in the science process, is becoming increasingly more valuable in informing management decisions.”
This UK InVEST training course is run through a collaboration between the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the Natural Capital Project team. This course is run on a not-for-profit basis and has been subsidised by the NERC BESS programme directorate. The course took place at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology’s site in Wallingford from 14-18 October 2013 and comprised two parts:
- A one-day 'Introduction to InVEST' workshop for researchers and practitioners who wish to gain a basic working knowledge of InVEST software
- A week-long intensive training course for users who seek in-depth understanding of the InVEST models and to consider their future development