What are Nature-Based Solutions?

Introduction

              Climate change is a major issue that is increasingly impacting life on earth at an alarming rate. Governments and businesses around the word are trying to find new ways to mitigate theses effects. One of these tactics is through nature-based solutions”.

What is a Nature-based Solution?

              A nature-based solution to climate change comes in two primary forms: conservation and restoration. Both have the same goal of trapping carbon from the atmosphere to alleviate the greenhouse effects causing climate change.

              A conservation-based approach focusses on retaining the valuable carbon stores that nature provides. These include forests, wetlands, and natural grasslands. Areas like these store carbon for as long as they remain intact and will continuously pull or sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

              On the other hand, a restoration approach has the goal of restoring natural areas to their former glory. For example, a farmer’s field that is no longer productive can be left alone to turn back into a natural grassland, or trees can be planted to convert it into a forest.

              Not only do nature-based solutions help mitigate the effects of climate change, they also encourage biodiversity by providing habitats to those species that have been impacted by human development. Another benefit is that natural areas can cope with flooding more effectively than the storm-water management systems in most cities because they can absorb the water rather than just re-route it.

However, nature-based solutions are not perfect and do pose some challenges.

Issues with Nature-based Solutions?

There are two potential challenges that arise with nature-based solutions.

The first is that it is difficult to place a value on how much a natural asset is worth in terms of carbon sequestration. And the second is how to validate if the asset will offset the expected amount of carbon emissions.

To mitigate these issues, organizations like the Nature Conservancy of Canada have teams of experts to assess a potential natural asset. 

How Can I Help?

              One of the great advantages of nature-based solutions is that any property owner can take part! If you are a homeowner, simply planting native plants instead of grass helps local biodiversity and helps offset your carbon footprint. Native plant lawns also help to absorb and filter runoff from our property so pollutants like soaps and fertilizers do not end up in the storm water system and eventually local bodies of water.

And if you have room for trees, plant them! Having trees on your property is wonderful because not only do they store carbon, they provide shade in the hot summer months, and act as a wind break when the cold winter air rolls in.

Conclusion

To conclude, nature-based solutions are a win-win for everyone and our planet. These solutions help capture the emissions warming our planet, provide habitat for species impacted by human development, and allow the land to cope with extreme weather events like flooding.  

Thanks for reading!

 

 Sources:

https://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/where-we-work/ontario/stories/superheroes-flood-control.html

https://www.ecologic.eu/sites/files/publication/2014/eco_bfn_nature-based-solutions_sept2014_en.pdf

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