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Interactive map shows nature’s benefits

December 2019: A new high-resolution and interactive map models nature’s contribution to people’s lives around the globe. It highlights nature’s declining ability to provide food security, high water quality, and protection for infrastructure. The map could serve as a platform for policy-makers to develop high-impact investment strategies for high-value ecosystems.


It is widely accepted that nature supports people at a local level. These contributions can now be traced using an interactive global map developed by Stanford University that presents global complex data in an accessible manner. The map shows nature’s contribution to people’s lives and reveals nature’s declining ability protect people from water pollution, coastal storms and under-pollinated crops. It contextualises where nature contributes the most and indicates how many people will be affected by climate change by 2050. The study visualises that nature’s benefits and its loss are inequitably distributed around the globe, disproportionately affecting developing countries.

Implications & Opportunities

The study provides an informational starting point for policy and decision-makers to formulate investment strategies into nature. The model suggests that areas such as the Ganges Basin could be targeted for high-impact investments into natural ecosystems. Such investments could support the preservation and restoration of high value ecosystems that contribute to societal wellbeing and provide ‘natural insurance’ in the face of climate change induced impacts on food, water, and infrastructure.


The study draws from a vast body of literature to model data in alternative futures, but its accuracy is challenged by rapidly evolving, complex and disparate biophysical and societal data. In light of this, the map should only be seen as a guideline for practitioners and its output not as an exact forecast of the development of nature’s contribution.


Chaplin-Kramer, R., Sharp, R.P., Weil, C., (2019). Global modelling of nature’s contributions to people. Science. 366, 255-258.

National Geographic. (2019). Billions face food, water shortages over next 30 years as nature fails. Retrieved from


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Adele Wiliams

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The views expressed in these external research papers are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, the University of Cambridge, or any of its individual business partners or clients.