Nature-based solutions are interventions that work with nature to sequester carbon, enhance biodiversity and improve resilience to the effects of extreme weather – ranging from flooding to extreme heat. Done the right way and in the right place, they can also produce a range of economic, environmental and social benefits. Water security, reduced heat stress and cleaner air, as well as healthier and more attractive environments for living, are just some of the co-benefits that nature-based solutions can provide. Examples include:
- Restoring bends in rivers, planting vegetation, changing the way land is managed to enable soils to absorb more water, maintaining flood plains and creating saltmarshes, mangrove plantations and undersea kelp forests on the coast all help to naturally manage floods and communities to better adapt to the weather-related effects of climate change.
- Creating and restoring forests and woodlands helps combat soil erosion and sediment transfer, mitigates climate change by capturing and storing carbon, improves water quality, and regenerates natural habitats in the process.
- Introducing vegetation into towns and cities – from trees in streets to green walls and roofs, and small ‘pocket parks’ – can support healthier communities by improving air quality, providing recreational spaces and reducing the urban heat island effect.
Nature-based solutions can complement or substitute for some or all of the functionality provided by traditional engineered solutions. And better than that, nature-based solutions are multifunctional, delivering diverse social and environmental as well as economic co-benefits.
More benefits, better outcomes
We work in sectors where nature-based solutions are already being used. Our projects help to address issues such as flood management, water and air quality, erosion control and slope stability, health and wellbeing, and to deliver carbon sequestration. We use a wealth of knowledge gained on projects, using both traditional and nature-based solutions, combined with cutting edge digital tools to assess the options for nature-based solutions to meet our clients’ needs and challenges. Decision-support tools, such as Stanford University’s InVEST, enable us to weigh the benefits and support the business case, and place a value on the co-benefits, including carbon sequestration, environmental net-gain, habitat creation and social and economic outcomes.
By looking at how nature-based solutions connect with the world around them, whether that is the natural, human or built environments – what we call taking a systems view – we are better able to achieve the best overall solutions for our clients and their end users.
We can help you to:
- Identify multiple outcomes. Through a thorough understanding of policy needs, programme or scheme objectives and other drivers we can help you identify multiple desired outcomes that nature-based solutions could achieve or contribute to.
- Develop your strategy. By engaging all stakeholders, we support the delivery of a strategy to maximise the benefits and ensure the outcomes are inclusive.
- Identify and appraise options. We use rapid assessment tools, ecosystem services assessments and natural capital accounting to identify and test various options to find the best or preferred ones.
- Develop your business case. To deliver your business case, we weigh strategic, economic, commercial, financial and management considerations, and assess and incorporate the monetised value of ecosystem services into our cost benefit analyses.
- Identify blended finance opportunities. By identifying all stakeholders that will benefit or can contribute as well as considering payment for ecosystem services, carbon offsetting and biodiversity net gain credits, for example, we can help maximise your finance options.
- Identify your preferred option. Weighing technical, commercial, social and environmental considerations alongside carbon sequestration and resilience, we are able to help you select the best nature-based solutions and optimise your investment programme. This process can be assisted by GIS mapping, natural capital accounting and multi-criteria decision tools.
- Design and implement the solution. We analyse, model and design the solution, prepare the delivery plan and work with contractors, partners and communities to carry out construction.
- Plan for operation and maintenance. We develop a logframe of goals, activities and outcomes to enable you to assess the solution’s ongoing performance. Our key performance indicators will help you to manage risks as well as evaluate performance. We can also support you to gather evidence and apply learnings.