Requirements for using the resource:
Software: InVEST models can be run independently, or as script tools in the ArcGIS ArcToolBox environment. You will need a mapping software such as QGIS or ArcGIS to view your results.
Skills: Running InVEST effectively does not require knowledge of Python programming, but it does require basic to intermediate skills in GIS software.
Data: requires parameterization of qualitative variables
Potential benefits from using the resource:
Any GIS software can be used
The Natural Capital Project (http://www.naturalcapitalproject.org/index-2015.html) provides a standalone version of the tool, so there is no need for ArcGIS
A complete set of tools is available, and a wide community of users is active around the world, all information is available here: http://www.naturalcapitalproject.org/models/models.html
The tool is modular in the sense that you do not have to model all the ecosystem services listed, but rather can select only those of interest.
The spatial resolution of analyses is also flexible, allowing users to address questions at local, regional, or global scales.
Potential limitations from using the resource:
Previous versions of InVEST were provided as a toolbox to ArcInfo from ESRI but the latest version is a stand-alone version
Data preparation needs vary with the individual sub-models. Some such as climate regulation are not intensive in terms of data needs, however, data preparation for other ES can be quite long and demanding.
A good knowledge of spatial data formats is needed
The user can not verify and control the intermediate steps of the models
As the operation involves expert rules, outputs may involve some degree of bias
Assessment of effectiveness of the tool or instrument:
Sharps, K., Masante, D., Thomas, A., Jackson, B., Redhead, J., May, L., Prosser, H., Cosby, B., Emmett, B., & Jones, L. (2017). Comparing strengths and weaknesses of three ecosystem services modelling tools in a diverse UK river catchment. Science of the Total Environment, 584, 118-130.