Opportunities at the Natural Capital Project

See below for opportunities to join the NatCap team.

Open Positions

We are a partnership among Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund, developing approaches and tools to model and map the distribution of biodiversity and the flow of multiple ecosystem services across land- and seascapes.

Currently, there is 1 open position at The Natural Capital Project:

Postdoctoral Fellow on Social-Ecological Scenarios

at the Stockholm Resilience Centre under the Wallenberg programme. Closing date: 26 october, 2016.

Project description
The Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation Research Exchange Program onNatural Capital, Resilience and Biosphere Stewardship is a research and scientific leadership program in sustainability science. It is jointly hosted by Stanford University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre and supports leading young scholars operating at the knowledge frontiers on management and governance of natural capital, resilience, and the biosphere. The Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), is a Future Earth core-project that is hosted by the Stockholm Resilience Centre. PECS aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social–ecological systems, the services they generate, and the relationships among natural capital, human wellbeing, livelihoods, inequality and poverty.

The selected candidate will be part of the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation Research Exchange Program onNatural Capital, Resilience and Biosphere Stewardship and PECS, and work in an international and interdisciplinary team based in Stockholm, South Africa and California.

The global social–ecological system is changing rapidly. Global changes from human activities include profound alterations of ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity. Human social systems are challenged in developing effective management and governance systems for dealing with the situation. At the same time, we have increasing evidence that living natural capital – Earth’s lands and waters, and the biodiversity they embody – has tremendous, but often unrecognized, value that need to be factored into decision-making to ensure long-term sustainability. We also understand that resilience – the capacity of a system to adapt or transform in the face of dramatic change – is essential for this goal.

A central challenge of managing the resilience of social-ecological systems is posed by slowly unfolding dynamics and considerable uncertainty about future pathways. Scenarios are plausible stories about how the future of a social-ecological system might unfold from existing patterns, new factors, and alternative human choices. A scenario is a coherent, internally consistent, and plausible description of a potential future trajectory of a system. Scenario development exercises aim at articulating multiple alternative futures in a way that spans a key set of critical uncertainties, integrates stakeholder views and uses qualitative and quantitative methods and data.

InVest is a well‐developed and widely applied suite of models for different types of ecosystem services, typically using the spatial extent and configuration habitat or land use as predictors of ecosystem services production. It has been continually developed and expanded by the Natural Capital Project since 2006.  The toolkit includes over sixteen distinct InVEST models suited to terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.  InVEST’s modular design provides an effective tool for exploring the likely outcomes of alternative management and climate scenarios and for evaluating trade‐offs among sectors, services, and beneficiaries. These models are best suited for identifying spatial patterns in the provision and value of environmental services on the current landscape or under future scenarios, and trade‐offs between management scenarios.  Feedbacks are not explicitly built into the model structure, but are taken into account during the process of project scoping, model building, and implementation.  Scenario planning can be used to explore the consequences of expected changes and social‐ecological feedbacks.

The goal of this postdoc is to advance and integrate scientific understanding of how scenario planning can be combined with InVest, or other, ecosystem service models to promote social-ecological transformations. Scenario planning can be an important tool in social-ecological transformations because it forces people to think explicitly about alternative situations, consider key uncertainties and create an understanding that a different order of things is possible.

Main responsibilities
Working with an international team to:

  • Assess research to critically review and assess the effect of scenarios in building resilience,
  • adaptive capacity and transformative capacity across multiple case studies and
  • develop new ways of combing scenario planning methods with ecosystem services modelling in a social-ecological context.

Specific tasks:

  • Develop framework for comparative analysis of multiple case-studies that have applied participatory scenario exercises.
  • Carry out structured review of participatory social-ecological scenario exercises to identify their strengths and weaknesses
  • Development a set of scenario planning practices that can be used to improve the use of InVest family of ecosystem service models.


For more information & to apply: http://www.su.se/english/about/vacancies/vacancies-new-list?rmpage=job&rmjob=2003&rmlang=UK

Fellows Program

Scientists interested in pursuing research that aligns with the mission and programs of the Natural Capital Project can engage with us as a NatCap Fellow. This mechanism provides mid- to late-career researchers and professionals with the opportunity to work with NatCap for a short time. It is intended for researchers who have defined a specific project to work on in collaboration with NatCap, and a position to which they will return following this Fellowship (e.g., an academic sabbatical). The Fellowship is designed to provide a self-directed and mutually beneficial learning environment, we hope to learn as much from you and your research as you do from us. Fellows are initiated only after mutual agreement and identification of a primary liaison from NatCap, who will foster mutual learning with other researchers and the broader NatCap team.

If you are interested in engaging with NatCap as a Fellow, discuss first with one of our Lead Scientists or co-founders, and we can take the discussions from there!