Mapping supply and demand for 18 ecosystem services at local to national scales globally, since 2007

Co$tingNature Policy Support System:

Co$tingNature for Sustainable Development (a dashboard of nature and poverty metrics for  nature-investment, access here)

Co$tingNatureMAP (a simple visualisation and analysis tool for global Co$tingNature data, access here (no login required, free for all uses)

Developers: King's College London (applications, data, models), AmbioTEK (software, data, models), UNEP-WCMC (applications, data)

Audience: Conservation and development NGOs, GO and NGO Policy analysts, agriculture and industry (e.g. extractives), education and academic research.

Focus: Co$tingNature is a sophisticated web-based spatial policy support system for natural capital accounting and analysing the ecosystem services provided by natural environments (i.e. nature's benefits), identifying the beneficiaries of these services and assessing the impacts of human interventions. This PSS is a testbed for the development and implementation of conservation strategies focused on sustaining and improving ecosystem services. It also focused on enabling the intended and unintended consequences of development actions on ecosystem service provision to be tested in silico before they are tested in vivo . The PSS incorporates detailed spatial datasets at 1-square km and 1 hectare resolution for the entire World, spatial models for biophysical and socioeconomic processes along with scenarios for climate and land use. The PSS calculates a baseline for current ecosystem service provision and allows a series of interventions (policy options) or scenarios of change to be used to understand their impact on ecosystem service delivery. We do not focus on valuing nature (how much someone is willing to pay for it) but rather costing it (understanding the resource e.g. land area and opportunity cost of nature being protected to produce the ecosystem services that we need and value).

Though we provide input data for application of this model anywhere globally (from remote sensing and other global sources) users can also use this model with their own datasets.  Application with the provided datasets takes only half an hour and requires no GIS capacity.  Bringing in your own datasets will take much longer depending on the availability, level of processing, format and consistency of those datasets and also requires GIS capacity.

Typical applications include ecosystem service assessment, conservation prioritization, analysis of co-benefits e.g. for REDD+ and analysis of pressures and threats on carbon and biodiversity in general or for specific planned agricultural, industrial or extractive interventions.  For those who require a simpler tool, Co$tingNatureMap provides access to baseline and scenario runs of Co$tingNature globally and regionally and allows - at the click of a button - comparison between sites where conservation or development investments are planned.  

Training videos | Example applications |  Need an expert to apply this tool for you

Geographical coverage: global

Spatial resolution: 10 degree tiles, countries and major basins @ 1km resolution. 1 degree tiles @ 1-hectare resolution. Sub-basins or local administrative areas @ 10m resolution (licensed). Globally applicable, locally relevant. Also global 10km and continental 1km (not possible on public servers)

Temporal resolution: Baseline (1950-2000) and scenario

Development status: 

History: Geodiversity model developed 1999, Costing Nature static global analysis 2007, version 1 2009, version 2 2011

Version 1: completed 2009

Version 2: complete 2012

Version 3: completed 2017


The version 1 model covers water, carbon, hazard mitigation, nature-based tourism, biodiversity and conservation priority as well as current pressures and future threats.  It currently does not include land use and climate scenarios, see here

Previous version 1 Map four potential and realised ecosystem services, biodiversity, pressure and threat, as scalar indices, indexed locally to the analysis area or globally. (faster but less sophisticated)

Previous version 2 Improved models and functionality, including analyses by country and basin, still four ecosystem services

Current Version 3. Thirteen ecosystem services, biodiversity, pressure and threat indexed locally (only local beneficiaries accounted for) or globally( all beneficiaries accounted for).  Also with (total) economic valuation of services and SDGs metrics.

Key users:  see here

Profiled in:  Eco4Biz - Ecosystem services and biodiversity tools to support business decision-making, Nature in the balance, Mongabay, Biology Letters, BSR, Ecosystem servicesWLE, EKN, Oppla, EKLIPSE, Values, SDG Knowledge Hub, BSR, CCB standards


Model and data documentation can be found here and system (interface and functionality) documentation here. A presentation on the science behind the PSS can be found here (English) and here (Spanish) [opens in Google docs viewer]. Download:  (EN, ES). A powerpoint demo of the system functionality is here (English) and here (Spanish) [opens in Google docs viewer]. Download: (EN, ES).  Documentation for version 2 is here.    Documentation for version 3 is here

Key references:  

Mulligan, M. (2015)  Trading off agriculture with nature's other benefits, spatially in Zolin, C.A and Rodrigues, R de A.R. (eds) Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources in Agriculture. CRC Press ISBN 9781498706148

Mulligan, M. A. Guerry, K. Arkema, K. Bagstad and F. Villa (2010) Capturing and quantifying the flow of ecosystem services in Silvestri S., Kershaw F., (eds.). Framing the flow: Innovative Approaches to Understand, Protect and Value Ecosystem Services Across Linked Habitats. UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK. ISBN 978-92-807-3065-4. [available here

Other Co$tingNature publications

Validation: Co$tingNature outputs have been verified through application in studies around the world but no global validation study is possible. We make the model easy to apply anywhere globally and expect our users to also verify and validate simulation outcomes in their own study sites.  As model developers we cannot validate these models for every study site and application that users may have: it is thus the responsibility of those applying these models to validate them for their own application and study site.  The FreeStation project can provide equipment designs to help with this.

Intellectual property: Please do not redistribute or publish on the internet any data or results from these systems in raw GIS form without prior permission from us as we need to ensure that our data provider's licenses are adhered to.  If you intend to publish results from this system in the academic literature please send a draft of the paper to us before submission so that we can help ensure that the interpretation is appropriate.  If you intend to use this system extensively to deliver the outputs of a funded research or consultancy project, please talk to us before submitting the bid or proposal. To contact us: click here.

Liability: King's College London and AmbioTEK CIC provide these systems without warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.  We shall not be made liable for any consequential, incidental, indirect, special, punitive or exemplary damages resulting from the use of this software.