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Increasing the accessibility of ecosystem services software and tools

InVEST version release earlier this year provides Chinese and Spanish versions for first time

As of InVEST 3.13.0, the ecosystem services software and its user guide are available in Spanish and Chinese. Video credit: Talia Trepte.

At a recent Chinese Academy of Sciences’ training in Shenzhen, China on the use of InVEST®, the Natural Capital Project (NatCap)’s flagship software for modeling ecosystem services, participants were able to use it in their native language. 

Earlier this year, the Stanford-based NatCap released a new version of InVEST that for the first time provides options for using the tool in Chinese and Spanish. Both the user interface and user guide are now translated, and the new software infrastructure is designed to more easily add new languages and translation updates in the future. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, one of the core organizations in the NatCap partnership, provided extensive assistance with the Chinese translations.

This step will significantly lower barriers to the use of InVEST globally, where there is already high demand for these tools, but language barriers have limited fuller adoption. 

“We are really excited for the accessibility this brings to more of our users. We’re hoping this is one step among many that allows folks to incorporate ecosystem service into their decisions and policies,” said Doug Denu, software team lead at NatCap. “We wanted to systematically support language options in a sustainable way, so we can meet and serve our users where they are.”

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. The suite is used in more than 185 countries and cited in more than 100 publications each year. InVEST helps decision-makers quantify tradeoffs and win-wins between different uses of land, water, and other resources, and identify and prioritize areas where investment in natural capital (such as conservation or restoration of natural landscapes) can enhance human well-being.

“Chinese and Spanish were the two most-common languages for our users who were not native English speakers,” said James Douglass, software architect with NatCap. “We believe we will be able to better serve more people and inform more decisions throughout the world by addressing the needs of people who speak other languages.”

Participants at an InVEST training in Shenzhen, China in November 2023. Credit: Jesse Goldstein.

As of the InVEST 3.13.0 release, there is also a new model, Urban Nature Access, showing how incorporating the value of nature into urban design can deliver better outcomes for people and the planet.

NatCap is working with country governments and multilateral institutions around the world on how InVEST and related natural capital approaches can support development goals, while not undermining nature, people’s life support system –including through the People, Planet, Prosperity project. 

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