Modeling benefits from nature: Using ecosystem services to inform coastal and marine spatial planning

Anne D. Guerry, Mary H. Ruckelshaus, Katie K. Arkema, Joey R. Bernhardt, Gregory Guannel, Choong Ki Kim, Matthew Marsik, Michael Papenfus, Jodie E. Toft, Gregory Verutes, Spencer A. Wood, Michael Beck, Francis Chan, Kai M.A. Chan, Guy Gelfenbaum, Barry D. Gold, Benjamin S. Halpern, William B. Labiosa, Sarah E. Lester, Phil S. LevinMelanie McField, Malin L. Pinsky, Mark Plummer, Stephen Polasky, Peter Ruggiero, David A. Sutherland, Heather Tallis, Andrew Day, Jennifer Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Scopus citations


People around the world are looking to marine ecosystems to provide additional benefits to society. As they consider expanding current uses and investing in new ones, new management approaches are needed that will sustain the delivery of the diverse benefits that people want and need. An ecosystem services framework provides metrics for assessing the quantity, quality, and value of benefits obtained from different portfolios of uses. Such a framework has been developed for assessments on land, and is now being developed for application to marine ecosystems. Here, we present marine Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST), a new tool to assess (i.e., map, model, and value) multiple services provided by marine ecosystems. It allows one to estimate changes in a suite of services under different management scenarios and to investigate trade-offs among the scenarios, including implications of drivers like climate. We describe key inputs and outputs of each of the component ecosystem service models and present results from an application to the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The results demonstrate how marine InVEST can be used to help shape the dialogue and inform decision making in a marine spatial planning context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-121
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services and Management
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for funding for this work.


  • Vancouver Island
  • coastal and marine spatial planning
  • decision support tool
  • ecological production function
  • marine InVEST
  • modeling marine ecosystem services
  • scenario


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