Using Nature Based Solutions
The methods we use to protect our infrastructure and resources need to adapt to a changing climate. Combining modern knowledge with natural and traditional solutions offers a range of benefits to people and wildlife.
Why it matters:
Climate change will result in more extreme weather; meaning our infrastructure, resources and people need protection from storms, flooding and drought
Engineered solutions require high levels of raw materials and release emissions in production and construction of defences. ‘Hard engineering’ solutions can also be costly and may have unintended consequences; for example, building dams to protect houses in a floodplain may shift the problem downstream.
Green and blue infrastructure in urban environments, such as street trees, swales, and permeable paving, can deliver a range of benefits to humans and wildlife. Including reducing flooding risks, improving air quality, and creating more welcoming environments with opportunities for people to socialise.
Restoring habitats to a previous use or ecological state can benefit the local area and wider ecosystems. Removing invasive non-native species can improve biodiversity and resilience to extreme weather. Restoring habitats like upland bogs and hedgerows can reduce flooding risks, store carbon, filter pollutants, and create habitats for wildlife. There are also economic benefits from eco-tourism, and health and social benefits from recreation opportunities.
Rewilding or reintroducing native species can improve ecosystem resilience. Reintroducing ‘keystone’ species, such as wolves in the US or beavers in the UK, can kickstart opportunities for other wildlife to thrive and habitats to be improved. ‘Keystone’ species can have this impact by changing food-web dynamics, reducing grazing pressure on landscapes, or altering natural resources through habitat construction. Restoring these balances has similar benefits to restoring habitats.
Returning to more traditional ways of farming and land management, such as using mixed crop systems, seasonal grazing, and planting trees and coppicing, can help build ecosystem resilience by creating pollinator supporting, diverse habitats. Better supported ecosystems can increase food sustainability, in turn reducing economic risks and creating opportunities for supplementary social activities, such as wildlife surveying.
What the public sector is doing:
World / Europe:
To help people understand how climate change will impact upon farmers internationally and how farms can mitigate their risks the FAO has produced this animation.
The Common Agricultural Payment scheme is available to farmers within the EU. Whilst the scheme has been criticised for emphasising production over sustainability, steps are being taken to improve the environmental, social, and economic value of the scheme.
The UK government’s ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’ includes sections on restoring nature and enhancing the beauty of landscapes
Greener Grangetown – Dwr Cymru project has used natural solutions such as the removal of impermeable surfaces, tree planting, creation of rain gardens and planted areas to catch, clean and divert rainwater directly into the River Taff instead of pumping it 8 miles through the Vale of Glamorgan to the sea.
One of the three national priorities in Welsh Government’s ‘Natural Resources Policy’ is delivering nature-based solutions
Welsh Government are consulting on ‘Brexit and Our Land: Securing the future of Welsh farming’
What the third sector is doing:
Rewilding Britain: How rewilding reduces flood risk – report examining natural approaches to flood management that repairs and revitalises our broken ecosystems
Wildlife Trusts: beaver reintroduction – projects to reintroduce nature’s ‘ecosystem engineers’ into river habitats across UK with benefits of reducing flood risk and water pollution
PONT – offers sustainable grazing management advice to land managers and operates a hay and manure exchange
Sustainable Food Trust – offers advice and guidance on developing food systems in harmony with nature and people.
Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust: Pumlumon – project shows that appropriate land management, such as rewetting bogs, can restore nature’s ability to act as a natural sponge and a carbon sink.
Woodland Trust: Pont Bren – project planted tree belts across upland farms which, along with providing homes for wildlife and shelter for livestock, increased infiltration of water into the soil to more than 60 times that of neighbouring sheep grazed pasture without tree belts.
RSPB: Lake Vyrnwy – collaborative project with Natural Resources Wales and Severn Trent to look after this habitat. Measures include controlled grazing, preserving deadwood on the forest floor and pollarding damaged birches.
Keep Wales Tidy: Long Forest – project to replant and restore hedgerows in Wales to provide wildlife habitats and help protect countryside against extreme weather.
How you can make a difference:
Plant trees, dig ponds and leave space for wildlife – these actions will help our natural world take care of pollution and aid in reducing extreme weather risks. No matter how small an area, there are usually ways that you can increase its ability to capture both water and carbon. See our resources for making space for nature.
Avoid using chemicals in things like cleaning products and single use plastics which build up in our marine environment – this will help reduce the need for expensive treatment facilities to purify our water.
Support restoration and rewilding projects or start a project of your own with Grow Wild grants.