How do we scale up Nature-based Solutions?

Photo of a floodplain meadow taken by Sprint co-lead Alison Smith.
Photo of a floodplain meadow taken by Sprint co-lead Alison Smith.

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) involve working with nature to address societal challenges, with benefits for both people and biodiversity. Protecting and restoring ecosystems, and managing farmland, forestry and fisheries more sustainably, can contribute to net zero targets, reduce vulnerability to climate change, reverse biodiversity decline and support economic recovery. Building resilient landscapes by scaling up NbS can also have a hugely positive impact on local communities, contributing to the “levelling up” agenda.

If NbS are to be implemented at scale, we need both a supportive national policy framework and the tools to enable local communities to deliver well-designed NbS in the right places across the landscape. Understanding how to design NbS to maximise benefits and manage trade-offs is key to the decision making process and for getting the endorsement of local stakeholders.

Through a combination of scenario modelling, mapping, stakeholder engagement and fieldwork at diverse sites including Oxfordshire, the Scottish Highlands and mid-Wales, this Sprint aims to build a tool-kit and case study database that supports decision makers to plan and deliver high quality NbS. It will ensure wide applicability by incorporating findings from protection, restoration, management and creation of a range of healthy ecosystems including woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, heathland, agricultural land, coastal habitats and urban green spaces.

Why this Sprint? Why now?

In 2020 the UK announced its ambition to “significantly scale up nature-based solutions” by joining the Leaders Pledge for Nature. It also announced a Ten-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which commits to “restore habitats for wildlife in order to combat biodiversity loss and adapt to climate change, all whilst creating green jobs”. Yet, policymakers and practitioners tell us that they face major challenges in delivering NbS in a way that is socially feasible, equitable and economically viable.

This Sprint will work with its partners and stakeholders to assess the potential for NbS to contribute to national climate, biodiversity and economic targets, understand the cultural, social and practical obstacles to NbS at all levels, and strengthen the tools and governance frameworks that are available for decision makers. Outputs will be designed to support key policy processes including net zero strategy, nature recovery, economic recovery, levelling up and the next National Adaptation Plan in early 2023.

Want to know more?

We are building our network of interested researchers from Oxford and beyond, as well as potential policy partners, contact us directly below.

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