Collaborative urban nature modeling platform can inform resilient city design
On October 21, Eric Lonsdorf, IonE Lead Scientist at the University of Minnesota, will be co-moderating a panel discussion “When and How Will Nature Provide Urban Solutions?” with Anne Guerry, Chief Strategy Officer & Lead Scientist at Stanford University and the Natural Capital Project (NatCap). The expert panelists from academia and practice, including Brookings and the World Resources Institute, will focus on the challenges unique to urban environments, the barriers that currently prevent uptake of nature-based solutions, and the bright spots and opportunities that illustrate the benefits of nature-based solutions.
The panel builds upon the Natural Capital Project’s Urban InVEST data and modeling platform. InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services Tradeoffs) is a suite of models that allows users to map and value natural services that support, sustain, and improve human well-being. Urban InVEST combines some applicable modules from the original InVEST suite, such as Pollination, Scenic Quality, and Recreation with additional modules that are unique to urban environments, such as Urban Cooling and Urban Flood Risk Mitigation. Together, these modules provide the information and analytics needed for developers, municipal governments, consultants, and advocacy groups to both quantify and map alternative urban designs and understand the impact of those designs on urban ecosystem services. “It is important to provide indicators of these services to planners because when they are not included in decisions, there is an implicit assumption that they have no value in the decision,” says Lonsdorf.
Despite its accomplishments, the work of Urban InVEST is far from over. The NatCap team envisions the modules being used alongside existing tools to provide a fuller assessment of sustainability in urban planning. The team hopes to see Urban InVEST continue to grow through several interrelated goals: expanding the number of urban ecosystem services included, improving its accessibility, and improving its integration of urban ecosystem services into planning processes.
“Ultimately, we hope that our efforts help reveal the full set of services that are important to people so that they can make the most informed decision possible based on the principles of sustainability,” says Lonsdorf.
Currently, the team is tackling these goals by working towards expanding the project’s ecosystem services models. This expansion includes an urban-specific carbon storage and sequestration model that accounts for building emissions, stormwater retention, urban biodiversity conservation, and developing models that reflect the relationships between access to green space and residents’ physical and mental health.
The panel is part of the Natural Capital Project Conversation Series. It is free to join but registration is requested.
When and How Will Nature Provide Urban Solutions?
Thursday, October 21, 2021
10:00AM – 11:30AM CT
Natural Capital Project is a partnership between Stanford University, University of Minnesota, World Wildlife Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, Stockholm Resilience Center and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Grace Abifarin is a student communications assistant at the Institute on the Environment.