The Earth’s forests, wetlands, reefs, and other habitats serve our lives and economies in ways that are often overlooked. They support the wildlife for which these places are home, but they also support people—storing carbon that slows climate change, purifying and regulating our water, providing pollinators for our crops, and supplying us with food and medicine.
Reliably quantifying the value of these benefits is difficult. Consequently, governments, businesses, and individuals making decisions that ultimately determine the fate of natural systems often fail to consider those benefits fully. WWF scientists are leading global efforts to measure ecosystem services and to provide new justification for conserving nature based on economic interests and human welfare.
A large part of WWF’s efforts to value nature is conducted through the Natural Capital Project – a partnership among WWF, Stanford University, The Nature Conservancy, and the University of Minnesota. Through the partnership, WWF has helped produce the groundbreaking InVEST software tool that allows scientists and decision makers to measure and map nature’s benefits.
Our work impacts governments, businesses, and communities by providing them with knowledge – gleaned through sound, innovative science – to inform their decision making. Our work shows policymakers and businesses where nature’s benefits come from, what they are worth, and how they are affected by policies and projects. Our work also illuminates the natural benefits flowing from private and communal lands like those in Belize, Namibia and Indonesia, where payments encourage landowners and communities to actively conserve natural habitats.
WWF strives for a world where governments and businesses treat ecosystems as essential natural capital, and where people improve their lives by conserving forests and other natural habitats rather than converting them.
The Natural Capital Project is a partnership that works to align economic forces with conservation by mainstreaming natural capital into decision making. By developing a scientifically-sound, reliable way to assess the true value of the services that ecosystems provide, WWF works to stop the degradation of the most important places on the planet.