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Scenarios for InVEST

© Developing scenarios, Hawaii

Scenarios describe what the future could look like. They can be critically useful for ecosystem service assessments that aim to inform decisions. When used to assess alternative scenarios, InVEST provides information about the change in ecosystem services in different possible futures. It can thereby inform real choices and involve stakeholders in a powerful learning process.

Why use Scenarios

Scenarios can increase the impact of environmental service analyses on decisions. They enable proactive, forward-looking, comparative assessments. Scenarios can frame studies to explore the potential impacts of uncertain changes that may occur in the future. Scenarios can also frame studies to understand the likely consequences of alternative decisions, policies and plans. Through scenarios, one can elucidate how the many drivers of environmental change interact.

Resources for Developing and Using Scenarios

© Developing scenarios, Hawaii

To enable those conducting environmental service assessments to develop policy-relevant and robust scenarios, the Natural Capital Project has developed guidance materials and tools for scenario developers and users. These tools draw on best practice in the academic literature and international experience using scenarios in the context of environmental service analyses in the field.

Scenarios for InVEST: A Primer (6.8 MB PDF) is a quick guide that introduces scenarios and how they can be used with InVEST. It includes short case studies and important issues to consider. It also provides guidance on what makes an effective scenario, suggests goals and methods for developing scenarios, and illustrates how to convert scenarios into maps in InVEST.

© Developing scenarios, Hawaii

Developing Scenarios to Assess Ecosystem Service Tradeoffs: Guidance and Case Studies for InVEST Users (7.8 MB PDF) is a detailed resource for practitioners who want to assess ecosystem services under alternative scenarios. Drawing on case experiences, it provides guidance on scenario types and methods, engaging stakeholders, and creating scenario maps. The guide highlights key issues and questions for reflection, along with tools, case studies, references and resources for those who want to learn more.

InSEAM is an online interactive mapping tool currently under development that can be used to survey stakeholders about spatially explicit information. Stakeholders can add new elements to a basic Google map, such as lines, polygons and points, to signify biophysical changes or management and development activities in particular places. It will enable people anywhere in the world with high-speed internet access to update the map simultaneously in real time. We anticipate that this tool will be immensly helpful in interactive sessions with remote stakeholders and greatly reduce the cost and time usually associated with conducting comprehensive stakeholder engagement in remote locations.

The Scenario Generator is a tool currently under development for creating scenario maps from storylines. It offers a relatively simple method of generating scenarios based on user-defined principles of where land changes could occur, and the possible extent of these changes. The tool will soon be available for download in the ArcGIS toolbox.

Scenario Case Studies


For more information, contact Emily McKenzie