INtegrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services Tool (INVEST) - Introduction

GVSU's Annis Water Resources Institute has created a web-based tool, the INtegrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services Tool (INVEST), that shows preliminary value estimates for West Michigan land uses and their associated ecosystem services. In order to appropriately assess environmental policy alternatives and the decisions that follow, it is critical to consider not only the value of human activity, but also the value of the benefits provided by the existing green infrastructure which could be compromised as a result of that activity. Despite a growing recognition of the importance of these benefits - or ecosystem services - their value is not well-quantified and is often overlooked in decision-making.

Project Goals:

Generate preliminary monetary economic values of green infrastructure and associated ecosystem services in the region Identify associated uncertainties and data gaps Create web-based tool

The project team collected valuation data and local market and demographic data. Where possible, the valuation data were transferred to the region and adjusted to current (2006) dollars for the region's land uses and their associated ecosystem services. These data were then incorporated into INVEST.

INVEST creates a framework that allows West Michigan to measure the costs and benefits of green infrastructure preservation. It estimates the economic value of green infrastructure and its associated ecosystem services to the region, and "monetizes" those preliminary value estimates so that they can be introduced into public and private market decision-making. By valuing ecosystem services, this tool provides a basis for better balancing development and conservation, which will inform the policy discussion and lead to better decision making.

This project was part of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance's Regional Green Infrastructure Asset Enhancement project. The funding for both projects was provided by People and Land and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.