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InVEST: models that map and value the goods and services from nature that sustain and fulfill human life.
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InVEST: Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs

InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs) is a family of tools for quantifying the values of natural capital in clear, credible, and practical ways. In promising a return (of societal benefits) on investments in nature, the scientific community needs to deliver knowledge and tools to quantify and forecast this return. InVEST enables decision-makers to quantify the importance of natural capital, to assess the tradeoffs associated with alternative choices, and to integrate conservation and human development.

Older versions of InVEST ran as script tools in the ArcGIS ArcToolBox environment, but have almost all been ported over to a purely open-source python environment.


This repository is for InVEST 3.2.1 and later

This replaces our Google Code project formerly located at If you are looking to build InVEST <= 3.2.0, use the archived release-framework repository at, and the InVEST repository at

General Information


Run make check to test if all required dependencies are installed on your system. OS-specific installation instructions are found either online at or locally at doc/api-docs/installing.rst.

NSIS-specific requirements

The InVEST NSIS installer requires the following:

Managing python dependencies

We recommend using a virtual environment to manage your python dependencies, and there is a Makefile target to assist with this:

$ make env
$ source env/bin/activate

Or on Windows, use the following instead from a CMD prompt:

> make env
> .\env\bin\activate

This makefile target is included for convenience ... you may of course choose to manage your own virtual environment. requirements.txt, requirements-dev.txt and requirements-gui.txt list the python dependencies needed.

Using a different environment name

If you prefer a different name for your environment, you may pass the environment name as a parameter to make:

$ make ENV=myEnv env

You could then activate the environment created at myEnv.

Using a different environment management tool

The InVEST Makefile uses virtualenv to set up an environment, but this is not the only environment management tool out there. You may elect to manage your virtual environment a different way, independent of make env. The only requirement for the build process is that the required tools are available on your PATH and the required python packages can be imported.

Building InVEST Distributions

Once the required tools and packages are available, we can build InVEST.

Building natcap.invest python package

A Makefile target has been created for your convenience:

$ make python_packages

This will create a wheel for your platform and a zip source archive in dist/. Both of these files (dist/natcap.invest*.whl and dist/natcap.invest*.zip) can be installed by pip.

Building python packages without GNU make

Python distributions may be built with the standard distutils/setuptools commands:

$ python bdist_wheel
$ python sdist

InVEST Standalone Binaries

Once the appropriate dependencies are available, InVEST can also be built as a standalone application:

$ make binaries

An important detail about building binaries is that natcap.invest must be installed as a wheel to ensure that the distribution information is in the correct location.

This will create a directory at dist/invest holding the application binaries and relevant shared libraries.

Binaries cannot be cross-compiled for other operating systems.

InVEST Windows Installer

The InVEST installer for Windows can be built with:

> make windows_installer

This will create the installer at dist/InVEST_*_Setup.exe.

InVEST Mac Disk Image

The InVEST disk image for Mac can be built with:

$ make mac_installer

This will create the installed at dist/InVEST_*.dmg.

Building InVEST Documentation

User's Guide

To build the user's guide:

$ make userguide

This will build HTML and PDF documentation, writing them to dist/userguide and dist/InVEST_*_Documentation.pdf, respectively.

API Documentation

To build the natcap.invest python API documentation and developer's guide:

$ make apidocs

This will build an HTML version of the API documentation, writing it to dist/apidocs.

InVEST Sample Data

InVEST is typically distributed with sample data, though, in the interest of disk space, these data are not included in any of the standard installers. To build zip archives of the sample data:

$ make sampledata

This will write the data zipfiles to dist/data. git command is needed.

Single archive of sample data

For trainings, it is especially convenient to distribute all sample data as a single zip archive. As an added bonus, this single zip archive can be provided to the InVEST installer for Windows as either the 'Advanced' input on the front page of the installer, or by a CLI flag, thus preventing the installer from downloading datasets from the internet. See installer/windows/invest_installer.nsi for more details. To build a single archive of all InVEST sample data:

$ make sampledata_single

This will write the single sampledata archive to dist/InVEST_*


InVEST includes a battery of tests to ensure software quality.

Model tests

To run tests on the suite of Ecosytem Service models in InVEST:

$ make test

User interface tests

To run tests for user interface functionality:

$ make test_ui

Changing how GNU make runs tests

The InVEST Makefile setup depends on nosetests and takes advantage of its plugins for line coverage and xunit reports. You can force make to use a different test runner by setting a parameter at the command line. For example, to run the tests with pytest:

$ make TESTRUNNER=pytest test

Running tests on installed binaries

The InVEST binaries for Windows include a python script to automatically execute and check the exit status of all InVEST models, running on the installed InVEST sample data. This script requires Python version 2.7 to be on the PATH. Once InVEST and all sample data have been installed on the target computer:

> cd C:\InVEST_<version>_x86\invest-3-x86
> .\invest-autotest.bat

Copyright and license information

A file called LICENSE.txt should have accompanied this distribution. If it is missing, the license may be found on our project page,

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